It’s been awhile but we’re back with another addition of the Underground Review. Here at HU we’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. As cannabis normalization marches into the New Year, we are taking a fresh look at what legalization means, how (sometimes if) it should be implemented, and what identity and role HU will take moving forward. When we first started the Humboldt Underground we held an ideological view born out of the chaotic medical cannabis grey market of California. Our ideological hope was for bolstering the status quo of medical marijuana through legalization (which is happening to an extent).
We thought, and still think, the current non-profit cooperative/collective model is revolutionary – it decentralizes cultivation and sale of cannabis while holding mainstream big business (and investment) at bay (albeit it makes the industry difficult to regulate). Nonetheless, this ideological hope inevitably met the material reality of western socio-political and socio-economic systems. With the passage of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), the current cooperative/collective model is set to expire one year from a date the yet to be created Board of Medical Marijuana Regulation (BMMR) makes an announcement to this end. For profit medical cannabis sales will began January 1, 2018 and all sellers and producers will have to obtain state issued licenses (more info here). This new act, combined with potential legalization in 2016, has sent Northern California into a stir.
In local headlines just last week, the day after the State of the Union address, directly above a picture of Obama waving from the podium, you guessed it: weed, cultivation ordinance tension to be specific. In the shadow of MMRSA and in the headlights of legalization, city and county governments have been tasked with facing the proverbial elephant-in-the-room and bringing the cannabis industry into the light. Currently they have until March 1, 2016 to establish local guidelines (although this date is expected to be amended). This has sent local governments into frenzy, with many opting to ban all sale and cultivation in a hasty bid for time to contemplate legal weed. In Humboldt, CCVH has given the county a head start (thumbs up) and Humboldt (including the Emerald Triangle) seems to be further along than the rest of the state (as we should be). However, this doesn’t make the process any easier.
The game has changed, at least on paper… After years of uncertainty, California has passed much anticipated medical cannabis oversight. California’s government will finally attempt to regulate its cannabis industry. The new laws impact many people in many ways…
For government officials, the newly passed Medical Marijuana Regulation Safety Act (MMRSA) reduces harms, woo’s voters, and makes headlines. For consumers, risks are minimized, options are made available, yet, not much is new. For advocates, abusive punitive justice is reduced, environmental impacts can be mitigated, and safe access has been bolstered. For businessmen and businesswomen, a new market has emerged; money is to be made and business-as-usual. For police, boundaries are defined, new challenges have emerged, and a page has been turned.
But what do these new laws mean to the people who have provided cannabis over the last 5, 10, 15, 20 years? It’s a hot topic within the cannabis community. Everyone is trying to make sense of it all. Is this real? Is it time? Should I get a license? What are the risks? What are the incentives? What do I need to do to comply? Where do I start?
Essentially, for those who make up Northern Cali’s cannabis industry (namely farmers from the Emerald Triangle), this boils down to one question: what does MMRSA mean to me? The following will attempt to inform those asking this question. First, we’ll overview the laws, then look at the different types of licenses, determine what it takes to become compliant, and look at deadlines and incentives.
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Up on the North Coast, we take cannabis seriously. So when our northern neighbors – Oregon – gross $11 million in their 1st week of legal cannabis sales, it gets us thinking. The North Coast – consisting of the Emerald Triangle (Mendo, Humboldt, and Trinity Counties) – produces a large chunk of California’s cannabis, and as legalization looms, our community contemplates boom or doom. So we crunched the numbers and the results aren’t gloomy at all.
Based on population, California is about 10 times larger than Oregon, and based on anecdotal evidence, Cali must have similar demand for cannabis (if not greater). Therefore, if we use these numbers, California would gross $110 million in its first week of legal cannabis sales.
Delving deeper, utilizing the taxation framework provided by Reform CA’s newly filed cannabis legalization ballot measure, California would net $30 million in tax revenue.
This might be a rough estimation but one cannot deny that legal cannabis will be big business in California.
Email us if you want our math…