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The Evolution of Blazing Washington into Blazing America Media: The Cannabis Grind

The Evolution of Blazing Washington into Blazing America Media: The Cannabis Grind

I first met Justin Cohen on a cannabis subreddit and then in the real world at the Seattle Cannabis Freedom March four years ago. In 2019, CLN interviewed Justin right after he launched an in-store cannabis newspaper. Since then cannabis has been deemed essential, several states legalized recreational use, the MORE Act passed partially, Trump lost the election and the first black governor from Georgia happened.

CLN: Justin, what have you been up to since we last talked?

JC: Last December, I started to co-host cannabis events down in Olympia with the veteran organization Twenty22Many. We got a few of the seshes in before the pandemic locked the culture side of the industry down. 

My newspaper only survived one edition before I ended up pulling the plug. Everything went well from the production, content, logistics, distribution, and the contributing team. I neglected the advertising and sales components as I launched without advertisers, and focused on process and content. The reality was I couldn’t manage the paper, add the needed departments, and hold events at the same time. I was also going through personal issues and I had a rough meltdown in late December and needed to make serious changes with both my work processes and life practices.

The good news is the paper had a decent welcome from within the cannabis community. I had a dozen or so advertiser inquiries and the short-lived publication led to the development of relationships with higher tier industry players. I currently have plans to rebrand and relaunch as The Baked News, but will not go into print until I have the ability to publish and market consistently without interruption.

CLN: You’ve been doing cannabis and music events for a couple of years now, how did you have to adjust with the pandemic?

JC: The arrival of the Coronavirus was a nuclear bomb as I committed everything to hold events with the start of 2020. I had an epic show booked at the Hard Rock Cafe in late March with a beyond amazing local line-up with the emerging national star Jay Loud as the headliner. The amount of work and long-term moves that revolved around this event were substantial. Follow-up shows at bigger Seattle venues with national named artists were in the works for the summer.

It was clear around March 10th, the show would be canceled, but I wasn’t prepared for the fallout of the virus. After shutting down the event, I hunkered down like so many others in the event side of the industry with thoughts of how to both survive and pivot. I went digital in April with a weekly sesh.

Blazing Washington

Blazing Washington

CLN: What was your weekly digital sesh all about?

JC: The Thursday Night Digital Sesh started off as an organized event and in time evolved into a chill sesh with a dope core of cannabis lovers I nicknamed The OZs (Original Zoomers).

The seshes went for six weeks on Zoom and were a lot of fun, including a pizza delivery contest where the winners got it delivered during the sesh. We played local cannabis industry brand bingo, blazed together, and talked about the craziness of the pandemic and how life had shifted so quickly.

I’m excited that The OZs will be reuniting very soon and looking forward to amazing collaborations with this fun group of solid stoners.

Digital Sesh

Digital Sesh

CLN: Over the summer on social media you shared a poster of multiple brands under a national brand, how has that come along?

JC: I’m very excited to say my vision of Blazing America Media has made tremendous progress. I currently have 5 brands under development under a corporate umbrella that all work together in a circular ecosystem.

While I have a tremendous amount of work to do in Washington, I have developed a solid foundation and reputation that I will begin to put weight on with an increased presence. In addition, I’ve created a foothold in Oregon with the launch of TokingOregon.com.

In addition to a Washington and Oregon presence, I have developing positions in both of my home states in California and Illinois. I will be leveraging my familiarity with the areas and highly developed relationships in different types of communities.

The fifth state I will be moving on will be Oklahoma because let’s face it, Oklahoma is a cannabis gold mine. Even with a reported half dozen publications already in the state, it’s a must-have presence for a true national cannabis media/event brand.

Blazing America

Blazing America

CLN: You have been working out of Seattle for almost five years and left the area during this past summer, where did you end up?

JC: In the summer of 2020, I decided after living 4.5 years in the Seattle area it was time for me to leave and open up in a new industry. My goal was to move into Oregon, but I couldn’t find the correct housing and ended up across the border in Vancouver, Washington.

My time in Seattle was incredibly difficult both on the personal level and also inside the cannabis and music industries. I have a lot of unresolved issues on the Puget Sound, but happy to say the four months since I left has been productive and ready to make potential historic moves with a wide range of amazing players from all over Western Washington.

CLN: How did the Oregon industry turnout?

JC: The mere fact I moved to Vancouver, versus inside Oregon, had a major effect on my progress in Oregon. I was dedicated for a few months by bringing on a writer, holding a small reggae event at the NW Cannabis Club, attending small events, and doing my best to network and produce content.

Sadly, Covid spiked hard in Oregon and a cause and effect starting with the closing of the NWCC led me to slow down and prioritize non-Oregon brands and business development. In the end, it was almost like the culture side of the industry got murdered. I’m still a little shocked at what went down at both the NWCC and with other facets of the local industry.

I’m happy to say Toking Oregon has a lot of potential with a website, social media, and a handful of human resource gems ready to help the brand grow and expand. A new game plan to tackle Oregon is being developed and I’m very excited at the prospect of producing content throughout the beautiful state of Oregon for many years to come.

Toking Oregon

Toking Oregon

CLN: You recently combined over a dozen local 420 models and an infamous Washington rap song on a recent video release?

JC: My 420 modeling brand Blazing America Models has made strong developments in the last few months. At this moment I have 15 models on staff with another 12 in training. A lot of people give me immense grief over this brand both inside and out of the industry. Getting this many models on the same page is not an easy task. I feel we have something unique developing with this brand that will be more clear with the endgame as more projects are released.

The song we used by local Puget Sound rapper David Olivas called Phones, Keys, Wallet, Weed, is an incredibly catchy and high-quality piece of art. The fact there is a deep backstory with Adam Sandler and this song, made the decision to use David’s work even more appealing. David Olivas has an exceptional reputation in the local rap game and it was the perfect chance to collaborate with a solid artist to begin the process of developing Blazing America Music.

CLN: What’s coming up in 2021?

JC: I have two months left in the PNW before moving on to a new state to tackle. I’m going to use this time to consolidate human resources in both Washington and Oregon as well as strengthen my model and music brands. I hope to be in print with my newspaper in multiple states by the end of 2021.

My parent company is preparing for higher-level funding in the backend of 2021, with the goal of a seven-figure plus raise. I have several routes for funding identified at this time. Due to current access to both my own funds and angel funding, deployed with conservative and well thought out spending, my runway is stable and long. I will not rush into higher funding until the foundation of my startup and the timing to raise sizable capital are correct.

Currently, the best place to keep an eye on developments of Blazing America Media is on Blazing Washington and Blazing America Models Instagram feed. I will also be releasing a press release with updated information in the near future that will be linked on BlazingAmerica.com.

CLN: Thanks for joining us Justin and sharing your entrepreneur saga. Justin’s story goes to show you that you do not have to touch the plant to be in the cannabis industry and we wish all those on the cannabis grind good luck. 2021 is going to be a good year for lovers of cannabis, freedom, and money.

10 Tips to Get Investors into your Cannabis Business

10 Tips to Get Investors into your Cannabis Business

10 Tips to Get Investors into your Cannabis Business

Written by tom

December 4, 2020

    Investment is of major importance for any cannabis entrepreneur. The cannabis industry has seen a major improvement over the last few years in terms of legality and sales. Cannabis has started to gain wider acceptance and has been legalized in a growing number of states, nations, and other jurisdictions for both medicinal and recreational use.

    Even though the marijuana stocks are struggling right now, the cannabis market is on the rise with stratospheric growth projections: the market was worth USD 10.18 billion in 2018, but is anticipated to reach USD 73.6 billion by the end of 2027. This has made various entrepreneurs excited to create their own business ventures.

    However, stepping into the cannabis industry is not a safe bet just yet. Investors know this, so they tend to be extra careful investing in cannabis. In order to be funded, companies need to show they are a viable and smoothly operating entity. 

    In this article, we’re going to go through 10 tips for getting investors interested in your cannabis business.

    1. Smooth running operation

    Cannabis companies need to keep sight of what’s happening in the market, predicting what’s likely to happen. Also, it’s of major importance that cannabis companies hire the right employees for the right positions. 

    Smart cannabis investors will be asking about your financial system, your business plan, and your employees. 

    Standard operating procedures (SOP) can help you handle the growth of your company, but even more important than this is the staff: you got to have the right staff, great finance and compliance teams are a complete must for any cannabis business: If you’re gaining traction and money with the business you must know what to do with it. 

    2. Accurate information

    Cannabis investors are interested in real, reliable data that can be used to help decision making.

    This means having a regular financial statement in addition to relevant data points on key metrics. For example, Dispensaries should know how long it takes for a product to sell; farmers should know yield per plant; suppliers should know the percentage of their revenue that comes from each customer and who their biggest customer is. All of the data reports you get helps to figure out decision making. Also, even more important, you can’t do projections without data.

    If you don’t know how much something costs, you can’t know how much to charge for it. If you don’t know how to charge for something, how could you determine what’s profitable? 

    A lot of CBD companies think that it is great that they can cross borders, but they can’t really afford to ship products in a cost-efficient way, resulting in losses in the long run. Getting your company’s data is really important to figure out what you should be selling and what you are spending too much time on.

    It’s about finding the right key players looking at the data that’s available: what’s being sold? Where? How? Staying aware of key metrics is the key to know if you’re succeeding or not in the cannabis industry.

    3. True understanding of costs

    There are a lot of things you want to take a look at and understand the costs of. It’s much more than just the cost of the product: what’s the rent? How much are you paying on taxes? Having a million dollars in your bank account doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a million dollars worth of profit. 

    This is where most conversations with potential cannabis investors fall off. You need to take every single cost into account in order to manage your cannabis business. It’s important to know not only what goes into your product but also key information about expenses and your profit margins. This usually sets apart companies that succeed from those that don’t.

    4. Built-in accountability

    This is a compliance issue. In this industry, you need to always double-check, and if people are not performing, you need to let them go.  

    Our industry is constantly under scrutiny from all angles, making accountability a top priority. Budgets and forecasts can be created and tested out over time, but employees need to have key metrics and targets to focus on and be held accountable for the result.

    RELATED POST: The UN voted to remove cannabis from list of harmful substances

    10 Tips to Get Investors into your Cannabis Business

    5. A clear view of the cash

    Cannabis is a cash-oriented industry for the moment. A lot of companies in the cannabis industry are accustomed to bank denials and dealing with a large amount of cash. In this sense, cash could be in multiple locations at a given time, making it hard to know how much you have at the moment. For any cannabis investor, it is important to know you can pay your bills and how will you do it.

    6. Trustworthiness

    Cannabis investors want to know they can believe in the information you provide to them. The investors tend to invest in the individuals more so than in the product itself. If you have red flags, they won’t hesitate on walking out of an investment.

    Your compliance and legal team should have this element as a top priority. You could be growing the best strain in the entire world, but you’re not going to get a dollar from investors if you don’t have a good team behind. 

    7. Comparability and predictability

    You absolutely need to be able to pick up on any pattern that shows up in the cannabis industry. Information gives cannabis investors an idea of what to expect from the business, they would also be curious about whether you can project future results. 

    This is important for your finance team. Your financial statements must be on point. Making sure you have comprehensive, comparable, and predictable results are key to a successful cannabis business.

    Is important to study the cannabis industry as a whole. The fact that you put in the time to understand competition helps educate you and give a good sign to the investors. If you stay on top, monitoring your competitors, in no time you will be able to identify the trends –hopefully before everybody else- preparing you for possible obstacles but also for possible opportunities. 

    If you see your competition suddenly had a drop in sales you have to start wondering why that happened. The same thing goes if your competition suddenly had a huge jump without a specific reason. 

    This is one of the most important things you need to know as a cannabis entrepreneur: understanding the market and competition gives you an edge in the cannabis industry.

    8. Future plans

    Cannabis investors are interested in knowing what your insight is about the market. Understanding the cannabis industry as a whole is necessary in order to make future plans. Future plans are something investors are deeply interested in. 

    You need to be able to talk about where you think the market and your company are headed. Investors will be interested in knowing if you have the ability to come up with realistic plans and, if necessary, if you can come up with an exit strategy.

    To achieve this, you will need to study the market for a while. However, if you need help with your business plan, you can also check out our dispensary business plan course.

    9. Clean financial statements

    You need to anticipate being asked for audited financial statements and know the time that might take to get these. 

    The last thing cannabis investors want is to receive a shoebox full of receipts. You need to establish the habit of regularly closing the books and save everything in a detail-oriented spreadsheet that can really give you a clean financial status.

    Your first order to succeed in the business is finance. This cannot be overstated. If you have to go back in time to fix your books, you will lose time, money, and consequently, investors. Also, if you can’t account for every dollar in that company, you’ll have a problem.

    You need to have a financial person on the team very early in the process.

    10. Transparency

    Cannabis investors will always want to know where their money is heading; the relationship between you and the investor doesn’t end with the funding

    You need to have a system that keeps your investors informed, and even more so, your company needs to operate with integrity, transparency, and trustworthiness.

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    Cannabis Lawsuits Signaling a Maturing Market?

    Cannabis Lawsuits Signaling a Maturing Market?

    Cannabis Lawsuits Signaling a Maturing Market?

    Written by tom

    November 30, 2020

      One of the main aspects of a healthy market is the ability to mobilize the justice system to protect your business. In this sense, are cannabis lawsuits signalling a maturing market? 

      Recently, Benzinga reported that a CBD Chain could sue Visa for “terrorizing” its business. Reportedly, MNG 2005, Inc. a Missouri-based CBD chain was withheld of $66.000 in payments, fined for $25.000, and cut off transactions involving the business after the financial services company wrongfully determined that it was involved in illegal activities. Furthermore, the plaintiff claims that his company was arbitrarily placed on a transaction blacklist.

      This is a big issue for CBD companies and it has to do with the federal regulations connected to banks. In fact, this is a direct effect caused by the confusion produced by the lack of federal legalization of cannabis. Fortunately, District Judge John A. Ross ruled that the CBD chain can sue Visa for unjust enrichment and defamation. 

      The owner of MNG said that he was pleased with the judge’s decision, but said he was also frustrated that his business is still suffering from Visa’s actions. 

      “Every day when I wake up in the morning, I want to know if our account is still alive (…) I wonder, ‘Is today the day that they shut us down again?’ This is what we have to live with, even though we sell the exact same products they allow others to sell without this fear.”

      According to MNG’s attorney, depending on how the case plays out, both in Missouri and other potential jurisdictions, it could have a major impact on how CBD and hemp companies are treated by financial institutions.

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      Cannabis Lawsuits Signalling a Maturing Market?
      Less than a week before that report, Benzinga also reported that a pet CBD manufacturer was deemed able to proceed with most of its claims in a $10M lawsuit against a pet product company it had previously partnered with, according to a Connecticut ruling.

      Sage Fulfillment LLC, a Seattle-based CBD manufacturer, sued Earth Animal Ventures in April, alleging the company breached a contract that made Sage the exclusive maker of CBD pens for pets that would be sold by Earth Animal Ventures. The lawsuit states that Earth Animal Ventures agreed to purchase 1.2M pens over four years, but instead walked away after purchasing just 75,000. Sage claims it earned only $1.1M through the deal, well short of the $5.95M per year in 2019, 2020, and 2021 that was stipulated by the contract.

      Earth Animal Ventures tried to have the claims dismissed, arguing that the CBD pens in question were defective and that their poor quality had led to customer complaints and had damaged deals with distributors. 

      The court allowed Sage to continue with a Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUPTA) claim but, in order for a breach of contract to rise to a violation of the CUPTA, aggravating circumstances must be proved. 

      In his ruling, Judge Bolden noted that Sage had not yet proved any aggravating circumstances beyond the contract breach, but he allowed the claim to continue, “at least for now,” so that Sage can flesh out the claim after discovery has been performed in the case.

      The proliferation of these lawsuits may be a signal that the cannabis market is gaining force in the judicial spectrum. The decision of these lawsuits may create precedents that aid in the growth of the cannabis market. Time will tell.

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      Germany Rejected Marijuana Legalization

      Germany Rejected Marijuana Legalization

      Germany Rejected Marijuana Legalization

      Written by tom

      November 26, 2020

      Recently, Germany rejected marijuana legalization, proposed in the “German Cannabis Control Bill” by the initiative of the German Green Party. The bill proposed the removal of cannabis from the list of Scheduled drugs on its Narcotics Act (the Betäubungsmittelgesetz or BtMG), and to regulate cannabis in a similar way to alcohol, with adults from 18 years old permitted to buy and possess up to 30 grams from regulated stores.

      The rejection of marijuana legalization in Germany came despite the fact that a majority of the members of the Bundestag belongs to a political party that favors some type of reform.

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      Germany Rejects Recreational Cannabis

      Why was it denied

      Marijuana Business Daily reports that Legalization efforts during this legislative period are extremely unlikely because

      • German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right, Christian-democratic political alliance – the Union – opposes any liberalization.
      • The Social Democratic Party (SPD) is in favor of some reform – at least allowing experimental pilot programs – but cannabis reform has taken a back seat among Social Democrats who prefer to vote in tandem with their government coalition partner, the Union.
      • Without favorable votes from at least some members of the government coalition parties – which have a majority in parliament – no legalization scenario is possible.
      • Although most opposition parties are in favor of some type of legalization, they remain in the opposition and can’t agree on how that should be accomplished.

      The country rejected marijuana legalization mainly because of the coalition formed with the joining of The Union (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party.

      So, even though members of the Social Democratic Party were in favor of introducing marijuana policy reforms, they preferred to vote against it after receiving criticism from their coalition partners. 

      It’s important to mention that, as of February 2020, members of the Social Democratic Party commented that they “(…) see the regulated distribution of cannabis to adults in Germany as a good chance for a successful policy, ideally supported by simultaneous strengthening prevention and early intervention as well as counseling and treatment”. However, Daniela Ludwig, a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), was particularly critical about this stance, expressing her condemnation via Twitter, and establishing that “prevention” was the only approach to deal with the bill legalizing recreational marijuana.

      Currently, six main political parties constitute the German parliament or Bundestag. Below you will find about their stance on this particular topic:

      The Left

      This party constitutes 69 seats out of the 709 of the Bundestag. This party was in favor of the legalization initiative. 

      Social Democratic Party (SPD)

      One of the most popular parties in Germany, constituting 152 seats of the Bundestag. Despite the substantial support for the initiative, the party voted in tandem with its coalition partner.

      The Greens

      This party holds 67 seats of the Bundestag. They were the second party that supported the legalization of the bill.

      The Union – Christian Democratic Union of Germany + Christian Social Union in Bavaria

      The Union is a coalition between the CDU and CSU parties. They form a majority in the Bundestag with 246 seats currently, making it next to impossible for any initiative to pass unless votes are cast from members of coalition parties. This party is against the legalization initiative.

      Free Democratic Party (FDP)

      This party holds 80 seats of the Bundestag. They abstained from voting on this particular subject even though, in the past, they had proposed several cannabis reforms.

      Alternative for Germany (AFD)

      A fairly new party was represented for the first time in the parliament in 2017. They hold 88 seats on the Bundestag. When the proposal of the bill was put forth, it was the only opposition party that was against the bill.

      What’s Next

      Germany is one of the biggest cannabis markets in the European Union, although nowadays it’s all a medicinal market. With over 4 million Germans using the drug, it’s safe to assume that people in Germany may not be on board with this decision, which could lead to new measures arising in the future. 

      However, it seems like there’s little chance of recreational marijuana reform being passed during the current legislative period. In this sense, the real question is what could happen after the next federal elections, which is expected about one year from now.

      Even though it is still too early to predict results, one signal is positive for adult-use cannabis reform. Current polls indicate the Green Party is rising in popularity at the expense of the SPD. And although both the SPD and the Green Party favor marijuana reform, recreational cannabis reform seems to have a higher priority for the Greens.

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      The MORE Act – Analysis of its implications

      The MORE Act – Analysis of its implications

      The MORE Act – Analysis of its implications

      Written by tom

      November 21, 2020

      Recently, in an emailed statement, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer promised that the House would vote on the MORE Act in December, after postponing the MORE Act vote that was supposed to take place on September 21 indefinitely.

      At the time, it was reported that moderate Democrats expressed concern about voting on the MORE Act before voting on a second Coronavirus relief package, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the bill’s sponsor, suggested the vote could be delayed until after the presidential elections.

      On Monday, November 9, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote in a letter to colleagues promising that the House would vote on the MORE Act in December. Hoyer’s letter did not specify which week the vote will take place, but the House is scheduled to be in session Dec. 1-4 and Dec. 7-10.

      In this article, we’ve rounded up the most important aspects of the MORE Act, considering the landmark vote that’s going to happen next month:

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      What’s the MORE Act

      The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 is a proposed piece of U.S. federal legislation that seeks to de-schedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, as well as the enactment of various criminal and social justice reforms related to cannabis, including the expungement of prior convictions.

      This Act was first introduced in Senate on July 23, 2019, and a vote it’s expected to take place in December: 

      “In December, […] the House will vote on the MORE Act to decriminalize cannabis and expunge convictions for non-violent cannabis offenses that have prevented many Americans from getting jobs, applying for credit and loans and accessing opportunities that make it possible to get ahead in our economy,” – Steny Hoyer, Nov 9: 

      The main purpose of the MORE Act is to federally decriminalize cannabis. In addition to this, the MORE Act would require federal courts to expunge prior cannabis-related convictions and it would impose a 5% excise tax on the legal cannabis industry to fund these expungement efforts, as well as three grant programs. As outlined in the bill, these grant programs include:

      • The Community Reinvestment Grant Program: Provides services to the individuals most adversely impacted by the war on drugs, including job training, re-entry services, legal aid, literacy programs, youth recreation, mentoring, and substance-use treatment
      • The Cannabis Opportunity Grant Program: Provides funds for loans to assist small businesses in the marijuana industry that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals
      • The Equitable Licensing Grant Program: Provides funds for programs that minimize barriers to cannabis licensing and employment for the individuals most adversely impacted by the war on drugs

      The legislation would also establish Small Business Administration funding for cannabis-related businesses and their service providers and would require the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect data on the demographics of the industry to ensure people of color and economically disadvantaged individuals can participate.

      What a Federal Decriminalization of Cannabis Would Mean

      Criminal Justice System: 

      Since 1970, with the classification of Marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (along with other drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine), the incarceration rates have increased in the U.S., particularly among the Black and Latino communities.

      The Marijuana Policy Project provides some insight into the way cannabis status as a Schedule I drug has directly contributed to the U.S. incarceration rates:

      “FBI statistics show that 90% of the more than 600,000 cannabis arrests each year are for possession, and cannabis comprises nearly half of all drug possession arrests in the country. Behind these numbers are decades of oppressive policing, with African American and Latinx youth systematically targeted for harassment and intimidation.”Marijuana Policy Project

      Economy:

      For states with decreasing budgets and revenue, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to batter the economy, decriminalization and legalization carry massive economic potential. Even though it’s still too early to determine how fully legalized weed has faired financially in various states, some lessons from recreationally-legal states like Washington and Colorado could prove to be instructive as the issue gains national popularity.

      According to the non-profit Tax Foundation, both states are early case studies that should raise the eyebrows of any governor hungry for economic stimulus:

      “Marijuana tax collections in Colorado and Washington have exceeded initial estimates, and a nationwide legalization-and-tax regime could see states raise billions of dollars per year in marijuana tax revenue.”Tax Foundation

      The cannabis industry is also great at creating jobs. In 2018, the industry saw record job growth, with industry organization Leafly reporting employment figures in the range of 211,000, and nationwide sales near $11 billion as of 2018.

      Differences between Decriminalization and Legalization

      Decriminalization essentially means that a given activity no longer qualifies as criminal conduct and can only be treated as a civil infraction, but that activity is unregulated. Legalization ultimately means the ability to lawfully regulate a given activity, as well as the fact that that activity is no longer considered criminal conduct. A great article highlighting the differences between decriminalization and legalization is the one published by The Economist, entitled “A half-smoked joint: Decriminalizing drugs leaves the crooks with the cash. Legalize drugs instead.”

      The importance of this differentiation is that, for some people, decriminalization is not enough when it comes to marijuana. As The Economist points out, decriminalization should only be a step towards legalization and regulation. But simply decriminalizing marijuana would help to preserve the existing criminal monopoly over it. As The Economist puts it:

      “Decriminalization is only half the answer. As long as supplying drugs remains illegal, the business will remain a criminal monopoly. Jamaica’s gangsters will continue to enjoy total control over the ganja market. They will go on corrupting police, murdering their rivals, and pushing their products to children. People who buy cocaine in Portugal face no criminal consequences, but their euros still end up paying the wages of the thugs who saw off heads in Latin America. For the producer countries, going easy on drug-users while insisting that the product remains illegal is the worst of all worlds.

      That is why decriminalization makes sense only as a step towards legalization. Jamaica and other countries frustrated with the current regime should adopt the policy pioneered by brave Uruguay, Colorado, and Washington state, the only places in the world to put criminals out of business. By legalizing cannabis from cultivation to retail, these places have snatched the industry away from crooks and given it to law-abiding entrepreneurs. Unlike the mafia, they pay taxes and obey rules on where, when, and to whom they can sell their products. Money saved on policing weed can be spent on chasing real criminals, or on treatment for addicts.”

      In this sense, it’s possible that decriminalization without seeking the legalization of cannabis could lead to furthering the proliferation of gangs and drug cartels, which would be a counterproductive result.

       

      Will the MORE Act Pass?

      The answer to this question is unclear. In a time of massive polarization within congress and the U.S. in general, is likely for the MORE Act to gain at least some support from Republicans, but meeting the threshold required to pass in the Republican-controlled Senate might be difficult. However, it’s important to remember that when the bill was initially brought to the House floor in September—after being delayed in the Senate due to deliberations over a pandemic stimulus package—it carried support from Republican reps Matt Gaetz and Tom McClintock.

      In short, it seems as though we’re a long way from full legalization, but the passage of the MORE Act would be a significant step towards it. 

      It will be interesting to see how the vote goes in December.

       

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      Illinois Cannabis Licenses Delayed Until Spring 2021

      Illinois Cannabis Licenses Delayed Until Spring 2021

      Illinois Cannabis Licenses Delayed Until Spring 2021

      Written by tom

      November 20, 2020

      Litigation surrounding Illinois first cohort of 75 cannabis dispensary licenses should be a warning for any state that has cannabis legalization plans, or election results to deal with. Illinois Dispensary License Applications are months behind schedule, with no end in sight.

      The five new legal states do not have to turn into a logjam of litigation that stalls the industry’s growth and expansion into new markets.

      Illinois does not have to continue on this path of guaranteed litigation that hurts newcomers to the industry and bleeds them slowly while they die on the vine waiting for any resolution on their license application. 

      Instead Illinois can learn from states like Michigan and Arizona, and so can the other states with licenses to hand out in the  near future. In Michigan there is no state limit on licenses and the municipalities control how many licenses they want in their communities. Companies can get open for business, but they have to compete like any other business except for legal cannabis in limited market states. 

      Limited market states create cannabis oligarchs because the state picks the winners and losers in the application round. This guarantees profitable business, and with it corruption to become one of the winners. Political connections, lobbying, outright bribes, the whole schmear of bad acts that outright greed can make a person do. 

      If a state wants to limit the licenses, which I do not recommend, but avoid litigation risk, then it needs to set standards for its cannabis industry and throw all the applications that qualify into a lottery to be drawn at random. Illinois dispensary licenses failed to do this. They were to be fully scored, which turned out to be a cruel and opaque joke. The process went so badly that the state settled with scores of disgruntled applicants and agreed to rescore all the applications.

      RELATED POST: Can You Trademark Your Cannabis Brand

      After the application window had opened for Illinois dispensary applications, the State updated its rules to include a lottery because it realized that it had far more applications than available licenses. Arizona did not make this mistake because its Prop 207 that legalized marijuana in the state included language for its lottery for applicants that qualify under its state standards. On the other hand, it also created only 26 new licenses for a state with only 126 operators and a population of 7.3 million.

      Create rules and standards to regulate the new cannabis industry, and if more businesses qualify than available licenses, use a lottery system to ensure a fair distribution of those licenses. Or the state should quit trying to pick winners and losers and creating an oligopoly in America. Set the rules, ensure the players comply with the regulations, and let the market sort them out.

      Illinois Cannabis Licenses Delayed

      We can see from proposed amendments that the state is still working through these growing pains. License caps may help prevent wealthy teams from grabbing the max allotment and making hegemony in the emerging market as opposed to consolidation over time from mergers and acquisitions. Also, separating out specific numbers of licenses for veterans as opposed to having them take all the licenses could help ensure that veteran owned businesses reflect the population which it serves.  For Illinois, only about seven percent of the population is a veteran. 

       

      Whatever way forward, we hope that it is not in court. The market needs to open quickly so that the barriers of entry are lowered to that of any highly regulated business. Having start up capital to burn money for years while the lawsuits work its way through court is not something social equity applicants can afford. 

       

      For the record, the longest litigation I have ever seen is nine years – but I quit checking on it a few years ago – could be over a decade by now. Your state should get the jobs and tax dollars faster than a decade after your people or legislature voted on legalizing the cannabis plant.

       

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      Rep. Earl Blumenauer criticized politicians for “failing” Americans

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