OAKLAND, Calif. - When officers burst into Rickey McCullough's
two-story home in Oakland a decade ago they noted a "strong fresh odor
of marijuana." Mr. McCullough had been growing large amounts of
marijuana illegally, the police said. He was arrested and spent a
month in jail.
A few weeks ago the city of Oakland, now promoting itself as a hub for
marijuana entrepreneurs, awarded Mr. McCullough, 33, a license to sell
marijuana and the prospect of interest-free loans.
Four hundred miles to the south, in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton,
Virgil Grant, 50, straddles the same two worlds, but with a different
outcome. He was a marijuana dealer in the 1990s whose customers are
said to have included rap stars like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac,
and he spent more than eight years in prison on marijuana convictions.
But his vision of starting a marijuana dispensary in his hometown was
dashed in January when the residents of Compton voted decisively to
ban marijuana businesses from city limits.
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A popular marijuana website has told the state's cannabis czar that
she lacks the authority to make the company stop running
advertisements for unlicensed pot retailers.
In a letter sent Monday to Lori Ajax of the Bureau of Cannabis
Control, Doug Francis and Chris Beals of Weedmaps.com said the company
is not licensed by the bureau and therefore not subject to its
They also said Weedmaps is protected from such action because the
company is an "interactive computer service" covered under the federal
Communications Decency Act. The law states that such a service shall
not be treated as the publisher of information provided by a third
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Unlicensed marijuana delivery companies are operating across
Sacramento County, drawing the ire of legal pot retailers and warnings
from state and local regulators.
Regulators cite concerns about the delivery companies not paying fees
and taxes and selling weed that hasn't been tested for pesticides or
other possible toxins. They say the companies are threatening the
financial viability of legal retailers who must pay those costs in a
new legal marijuana market that started in California on Jan. 1.
In Sacramento County, about 200 marijuana delivery services were
advertising Friday on the website Weedmaps.com. Only one jurisdiction
in the county, the city of Sacramento, has plans to allow cannabis
delivery services, and it has yet to issue permits. In the interim,
city pot czar Joe Devlin has told delivery companies to register with
city, and eight have done so.
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A San Diego County resident is among 40 people nationwide to become
infected with salmonella bacteria linked to kratom, the controversial
tropical herb that many have begun using to treat opioid addiction
despite an import ban from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
According to the county Health and Human Services Agency, a
44-year-old, whose gender and city of residence were not released,
became ill in January.
Testing performed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention confirmed that symptoms were caused by the same subspecies
of the salmonella bacteria that has now produced cases in 27 states.
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The state auditor says Ohio should continue its medical marijuana
program despite "multiple" flaws in selecting grower applicants.
Republican Auditor David Yost says the program's flaws should be
handled by administrative appeals or lawsuits.
At issue is the Department of Commerce's admission last week that a
scoring error led to a company's inadvertent exclusion from the
proposed list of the dozen big marijuana growers in Ohio's new program.
The agency says it identified the mistake after Yost expressed concern
that two employees had complete access to the scoring data.
The agency offered to put the program on hold. Yost said in
Wednesday's letter it's too late for that. He urged the agency to get
advice from the Ohio Attorney General.
Now that marijuana is legal in California, people don't have to hide
their marijuana use -- in fact, some are smoking it right in officers'
But these pot smokers aren't being brazen. They're actually helping
police better detect impaired drivers on the road, CBS Los Angeles
Glendale police Officer Bryan Duncan told the news station that about
75 percent of the DUI arrests he makes these days are drug impaired --
"more cannabis than alcohol."
A group of smokers recently gathered at a hotel where they were first
given field sobriety tests, and then allowed to start smoking
marijuana, Inside Edition reported. They later took sobriety tests for
a second time to judge how the drug affected their mental and motor
skill, the news outlet said.
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Berkeley may be the first city to declare itself a cannabis sanctuary
city. A customer shops at marijuana dispensary MedMen in West
Hollywood in January. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to declare the city a
sanctuary for recreational marijuana, a move that may be the first of
The resolution, adopted Tuesday, prohibits Berkeley's agencies and
employees from using city resources to assist in enforcing federal
marijuana laws or providing information on legal cannabis activities.
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Frustrated with traditional therapies for chronic pain and post-combat
stress disorders, a growing number of military veterans of the Iraq
and Afghanistan wars are turning to medical marijuana for their
treatment, a move that has put them at sharp odds with the Trump
The White House has resisted calls from Democrats in Congress,
pro-reform activists and even the American Legion, the nation's
largest wartime veterans service organization, to support research
into whether marijuana can help veterans, apparently fearing that any
move by the Department of Veterans Affairs to study its effectiveness
will be another step toward nationwide legalization.
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Even before California legalized recreational marijuana Jan. 1, pot
was enjoying a gray renaissance.
From 2006 to 2013, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported
a 250% rise in marijuana use by Americans 65 and older. It is still a
small share, climbing from 0.4% to 1.4% of that population, but local
dispensaries see plenty of silver-haired shoppers.
"This is probably the most interested -- and wariest -- group," said
Lincoln Fish, chief executive of cannabis company Outco, noting that
the average customer at his Outliers Collective in El Cajon is over 58
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A company responsible for keeping Sacramento dispensaries compliant
with the law has run afoul of the city's pot czar for planning an
illegal marijuana party.
Capitol Compliance Management and its nine affiliated dispensaries
have been running advertisements in the Sacramento News & Review for a
"Holiday Budtender Bash" that was scheduled for Thursday.
Joe Devlin, the city's chief of cannabis policy and enforcement, said
the company canceled the event after he told them it would violate
state and city laws by allowing public consumption of marijuana and by
giving it away.
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California's top cannabis regulator said the state deserves credit for
a successful rollout of retail marijuana sales, but acknowledged that
significant issues loom in the near future.
One month after the start of recreational marijuana sales, Lori Ajax,
chief of the state Bureau of Cannabis Control, gave an assessment of
the state's performance for a few hundred people at the International
Cannabis Business Conference.
She praised her employees, who worked through the weekend before the
Monday, Jan. 1 beginning of legal sales, granting licenses to
dispensaries eager to start. Employees continued to work on Jan. 1,
expecting to receive complaints from license applicants and holders,
but they never came, Ajax said.
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When California voters legalized recreational weed in 2016, they made
the law retroactive, allowing residents to petition to overturn or
reduce old convictions for possession, cultivation and distribution of
But it is a difficult and expensive legal procedure, advocates say,
and many people are not even aware they are now eligible to clean up
their records. State courts received 4,885 petitions in the first 11
months after Proposition 64 passed, while the pro-legalization Drug
Policy Alliance found more than 460,000 arrests for marijuana offenses
between 2006 and 2015 alone.
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State Treasurer John Chiang laid out a plan Tuesday to create a public
bank for marijuana merchants in open defiance of what he called an =93out
of step=94 Trump administration fixing to take the hose to California's
sizzling new herbal trade.
Chiang said he and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra have
initiated "a methodical and disciplined" cost-benefit analysis to
determine whether a public bank would work in California amid the
threat of a federal crackdown.
The move comes 30 days after California's recreational market
officially began, creating a financial windfall for marijuana
merchants and illuminating a serious problem. Store owners, growers
and distributors are being forced to use cash because most banks won't
open accounts for them while the federal government still considers
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Bay Area marijuana retailers who went fully mainstream this month were
forced to act like gangsters anyway as they rumbled down freeways and
across bridges in sport utility vehicles and sedans and, in at least
one case, a Tesla, bearing cash piled in shopping bags and suitcases.
The money was headed for the collectors at the San Francisco and
Oakland offices of the California Department of Tax and Fee
Administration, which are handling tax payments under the 2016 state
law that legalized recreational cannabis.
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Dennis Peron, an activist who helped legalize medical marijuana in
California, died Saturday afternoon in a San Francisco hospital. He
Peron was a force behind a San Francisco ordinance allowing medical
marijuana, a win that later helped propel the 1996 passage of Prop.
215, which legalized medical use for the entire state. A Vietnam War
veteran, Peron spent some of the last years his life on a 20-acre farm
in the rolling hills of Lake County, growing and giving away what he
once sold: medical marijuana.
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During his 25 years of researching cannabis, Dr. Daniele Piomelli has
received hundreds of emails from people desperately wanting to know
whether the plant can help them with medical problems. He recalls the
one he received from the father of a girl with autism who was
desperate for help.
"Ninety-nine percent of the time, I have to say, 'We just don't know,'
" said Piomelli, a professor at the University of California, Irvine.
While Piomelli and other marijuana researchers acknowledge a shortage
of research on the benefits and risks of the drug, they also said they
feel the need to spread what is known about cannabis as California and
seven other states move forward with legalized, recreational weed for
adults. Piomelli was one of several public health experts who spoke
Thursday during a legislative briefing at the state Capitol on the
health effects of cannabis.
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Critics said this ad promoted drug use. Now the state of California
has pulled it
Video: The campaign, released ahead of California legalizing marijuana
on Jan. 1, stirred controversy with viewers over its descriptions of the
drug. California Office of Traffic Safety
The California Office of Traffic Safety has pulled a public service
advertisement that was intended to stop stoned driving but critics
said promoted marijuana use.
The office joined with law enforcement leaders last week to announce a
marketing campaign called "DUI Doesn't Just Mean Booze," which
included the controversial advertisement. The campaign was timed to
coincide with the start of recreational weed sales in California on
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This month, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, introduced legislation to
change the spelling of "marihuana" in the 1970 Controlled Substances
Act to "marijuana" - and then to drop the word altogether from the
federal list of "controlled substances" - that is, illegal drugs.
Removing the marijuana prohibition from federal law is just the
warm-up act to the bill's primary goal: to end a counterproductive war
on drugs. It's past time to reform drug laws that have ruined lives
and devastated communities.
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Compton voters Tuesday soundly rejected two competing proposals for
regulating cannabis businesses in the city, where marijuana
dispensaries and other pot-related operations are now banned.
The city's proposal, known as Measure C, would have allowed marijuana
sales while imposing a 10% business tax and banning commercial
cultivation of marijuana. It was rejected 76% to 23%. The competing
initiative, Measure I, included many of the same provisions as Measure
C, but called for a 5% business tax and would have allowed indoor
marijuana-cultivation businesses. It was rejected 77% to 23%.
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Recreational weed is now legal in California. So what does that
In January 2018, state and local authorities will begin issuing
licenses for the sale of legal recreational marijuana. But what do you
need to know before you rush to the dispensary? Information courtesy
The California Department of Food and Agriculture has defied the will
of voters by allowing large-scale marijuana farms, a group
representing growers alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
At issue is a dispute that has divided the industry over whether the
state should prohibit sizable cultivation facilities for the first
five years of legalized retail marijuana sales, which started Jan. 1
of this year.
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