Meeting just a week after passage, nearly 2000 visitors to LA’s CWC were generally happy about the content of BMMR (Bureau of MJ Regulation)/266 language which most felt would energize the growth of the legal industry. The maze of collectives will be transformed into dispensaries, and attendees came to hear from more than 76 speakers.
Grammy winner, and breast cancer survivor, Melissa Etheridge noted “once we no longer worry about losing our children, our homes and our jobs for choosing this herb, we’ll become a better society.” Earlier, Drug Policy Alliance head Ethan Nadelmann rattled off a list of likely 2016 states which will vote for legalization. And while the RMJ/MMJ votes are critical, the DPA feels “it’s is also a fight for racial justice” noting that Black men are 10 times more likely to be arrested for a pot offense. We want to build an “inclusive and diverse industry” said Nadelmann, hoping the US will look to embrace the European model, where Portugal and Switzerland have taken an approach where “No one goes to jail for drugs,” but gets help, Nadelmann said.
With an California cannabis industry dominated by perhaps 450 unregulated collectives—a a couple hundred dispensaries– new and old agreed that the end to all- local control, and ending an attitude of “anything goes”, creates reliability, which is fundable for growth. The BMMR/266 framework for setting up a myriad of rules to be overseen by a Cannabis Czar approved by the State Senate, puts the highly political regulation of cannabis back in Sacramento.
Jane founder Jeff Foster thinks legal cannabis is “the most complete legal and regulatory framework than any other in retail.” He said as dispensaries wait for bank access, owners need to be transparent, know the federal rules, and keep vigilant looking for cash leakage and reducing risk.
As chair of the ReformCA effort for legalization next year, Dale Sky Jones said she feels within only one other major ballot initiative to be prepared for this fall’s impending deadline. Her group has hired national campaign expert Joe Trippi, and expects to raise $16-$18 million to fight a statewide battle fror cannabis legalization in 2016.
Bay Area edible maker CEO Krystal Kiathara of YummiKarma said the entire cannabis industry has to be willing to learn from each other. “If we don’t share our mistakes with one another, we will all fail,” Kiathara said,Cannabis Trainer CEO Maureen McNamara agreed that in the area of edibles cooperation on sharing kitchens and helping new entrants understand the complexities of different state laws is crucial. Several industry attorneys opined that prospects for a break in obtaining banking access is still remote, and the continuing 60-65% effective tax rate for retailers under the IRS 280-E will also be around for some time.”
In addition to Nadelmann and Etheridge, former Men’s WearHouse CEO George Zimmer said he was planning to support the California legalization issue in 2016. “Everybody in the country knows what the truth here is, except the 535 people we elect to make these decision in Washington,” he said. “It’s astounding.”