First Alaska retail pot shops get OK to allow on-site use

JUNEAU, Alaska — The first marijuana shops in Alaska where customers can partake on-site have gotten approval, putting them on the leading edge nationally.

Visions for the spaces range from a living room feel to a brewery-style tasting room with a TV to watch football games.

Zoning and ventilation requirements and restrictions on smoking can limit the growth of so-called cannabis lounges or cafes in places that permit them, such as some cities in California, said Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the National Cannabis Industry Association.

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In second year of legal weed, California’s cannabis industry still struggles

As year two of legal cannabis sales in California comes to a close, shoppers are still more likely to buy marijuana from illicit sellers than from state-sanctioned stores that pay taxes and test their products for safety.

California’s 7,000 licensed cannabis businesses — and the state’s tax revenue — are feeling the pinch.

Prominent cannabis companies that a year ago were growing aggressively have, in recent months, laid off hundreds of workers. They say hefty taxes, onerous regulations and competition from a thriving illicit market are forcing them to scale back operations.

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State confiscates nearly 1 million marijuana plants, arrests 148 in 2019 effort to combat illegal grows

LOS ANGELES — State Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Monday the arrests of 148 people so far this year during the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting Program enforcement effort, the nation’s largest such multi-agency eradication program.

During this year’s effort, CAMP personnel also eradicated 953,459 marijuana plants from 345 raided grow sites across the state and seized 168 weapons, Becerra announced at a downtown Los Angeles news conference.

“Illegal cannabis grows are devastating our communities,” Becerra said. “Criminals who disregard life, poison our waters, damage our public lands and weaponize the illegal cannabis black market will be brought to justice.”

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Vapes on black market may contain toxic chemicals, pesticides, harmful flavorings

Ingredients lurking inside marijuana and nicotine black-market vapes can transform into dangerous, toxic chemicals when heated and inhaled, with the worst impacts of vaping still unknown, according to experts.

“We see in black market products, horrible pesticide contamination,” said Dr. Chris Hudalla, founder and chief science officer at Proverde Labs in Milford, which tests marijuana and hemp-based vapes along with some nicotine vapes for the legal, regulated market.

Black market marijuana vapes are being eyed as a likely culprit in the vape health crisis that has seen more than 2,600 hospitalizations nationwide and at least 60 deaths, including, locally, at least 73 suspected vape injury cases and four deaths in Massachusetts.

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Colorado unveils plan to help bring banking to state’s cannabis industry

With federal banking still out of reach, Gov. Jared Polis unveiled new strategies Monday to entice Colorado banks, credit unions and money transmitters to work with cannabis companies and become leaders in providing financial services to marijuana and hemp businesses.

Polis’s plan renews the state’s commitment to creating a regulatory landscape that affords cannabis businesses access to services widely available to other legal industries, while offering financial institutions support to navigate the industry’s federal grey area.

Because marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal law, Colorado’s dispensaries, cultivations and other businesses have been prohibited from obtaining conventional financial services, such as lines of credits or loans, and the ability to accept credit cards.

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What is social equity in Colorado’s cannabis industry? Regulators look to level the playing field for marginalized communities

With about 40 states expected to allow some form of legalization by the end of December, 2020 is poised to be a breakout year for cannabis.

But as the movement toward normalization gains steam across the United States, legislators and activists are adding a moral provision to the burgeoning marijuana industry: to rectify decades of racial persecution caused by the War on Drugs.

Colorado is no exception. This year, regulators at the state level and in Denver are tackling new initiatives to improve social equity in the industry — even if they’re still figuring out exactly what that looks like.

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Cross-pollination between marijuana and hemp is a budding conflict at outdoor grows

By Bart Schaneman, Marijuana Business Daily

DENVER — Outdoor marijuana growers are reporting an increase in cross-pollination from hemp farms, a development that could mean marijuana cultivators might lose upwards of tens of thousands of dollars if their plants become unmarketable as flower products.

As the marijuana and hemp industries increasingly share the same cultivation territory, the number of conflicts is likely to increase, particularly in areas with thriving outdoor cannabis cultivation.

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Colorado hopes to make cannabis industry more eco-friendly by recycling breweries’ carbon dioxide

In an effort to make Colorado’s cannabis industry more eco-friendly, the state’s health department and energy office launched two new pilot programs Wednesday focused on reducing carbon emissions and improving energy efficiency at local cultivations.

Both programs support Gov. Jared Polis’ mission to cut greenhouse gasses 50% by 2030.

For the first program, the Carbon Dioxide Reuse Project, the Denver Beer Co. is partnering with the Clinic dispensary to recycle carbon emissions. Brewing a 120-barrel batch of beer produces enough carbon dioxide naturally through fermentation to fill a 500-pound vessel, said Charlie Berger, co-founder of Denver Beer Co.

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Northern California cannabis court case gives inspiration for a film

YOLO COUNTY — Paul Fullerton breathed a sigh of relief last month when drug charges against the Woodland business owner were expunged and his probation halted — a resolution more than three years in the making.

Fullerton is a retired UC Davis fire captain who owns  “Li’l Shop of Growers” in Woodland and was convicted of selling cannabis illegally. At the time of his arrest in 2016 — after a controversial investigation — the charges against Fullerton were felony counts of illegal cultivation and possession for sale, along with possession of a firearm and an extended magazine.

The gun-related charges were dropped after the arms were proven legit, but the cannabis charges stayed, even as laws changed, making illegal sales a misdemeanor, not a felony.

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Illegal pot farms on public land create environmental hazard, expose deadly neurotoxins

By CHRISTOPHER WEBER

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two months after two men were arrested at an illicit marijuana farm on public land deep in the Northern California wilderness, authorities are assessing the environmental impact and cleanup costs at the site where trees were clear-cut, waterways were diverted, and the ground was littered with open containers of fertilizer and rodenticide.

A group including U.S. Forest Service rangers, local law enforcement, scientists and conservationists hiked into the so-called trespass grow where nearly 9,000 cannabis plants were illegally cultivated on national forest land in the region known as the Emerald Triangle, for the marijuana that has been produced there for decades.

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Two men sentenced for shipping over 800 pounds of marijuana from California through U.S. Postal Service

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — The Department of Justice says two West Virginia men have been sentenced for participating in a distribution scheme that involved shipping about 400 kilograms of marijuana through the U.S. Postal Service from 2013 to 2018.

A news release says 44-year-old James Waylon Molinaro was sentenced to 78 months in prison for possession with intent to distribute. Molinaro’s accomplice, 43-year-old Chris Crookshanks, was sentenced to three years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute.

The release says Molinaro shipped marijuana from California to Huntington, West Virginia, through the Postal Service and paid postal employees, including Crookshanks, to deliver the parcels to him.

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