SF could institute fine for smoking in apartments, including cannabis

A new proposal heading to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors would impose a $1,000 fine on smoking in apartment buildings with three or more units.

The ban would include smoking tobacco, smoking cannabis and vaping, and would extend to balconies and patios.

Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee introduced the bill as one of his last pieces of legislation, which will be voted on on Dec. 1.

S.F. already prohibits smoking in common areas like the building lobby or stairwells and some apartment leases have smoking bans built into the lease.

With cannabis smoking banned in homes, Supervisor Rafael Mandelman raised concerns about where those smokers could smoke safely. While an amendment by Yee would exempt cannabis smoking for those with a medical need, Mandelman didn’t think that would be enough since many people no longer seek medical exceptions with marijuana legalized.

According to the Examiner, Yee referenced a mother that called his office for help because her baby was being exposed to secondhand smoke and feared the health impacts.

“I was alerted to and reminded that San Francisco has fallen behind many cities in enacting policies to protect our most vulnerable from secondhand smoke by a mother with an infant,” Yee said.

The Department of Public Health would be responsible for enforcing the rule, beginning with a warning and education about smoking cessation. Repeat offenders could face fines of up to $1,000 a day.
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US Congress expected to vote on decriminalizing marijuana at federal level in December

WASHINGTON (WZTV) — The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote in December on legislation that would decriminalize marijuana.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD-5) issued an update on the status of House bills last week, stating he expects a vote on the bill to come next month.

The vote will be taken on the “Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019,” otherwise known as the MORE Act of 2019. The bill is sponsored by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the Senate and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10) in the House.

Under the bill, marijuana would be removed from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and criminal penalties for those who manufacture, distribute, or possess marijuana would be eliminated.

In addition, the bill would impose a 5% tax on cannabis products to be deposited in a trust fund which would support various programs to communities impacted by the war on drugs. Among other actions, it would also expunge convictions related to federal cannabis offenses.

The House version has 118 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, including Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen and Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY-3).

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also created a message form for those who support the bill to contact their local representative. The organization says passage of the bill would help end racial disparities in marijuana arrest rates.

Several states voted to enact marijuana reform during the November 3rd election, passing laws which ranged from allowing recreational use to legalizing medical use.

https://thefreshtoast.com/marijuana-legislation/congress-may-be-forced-to-consider-nationwide-marijuana-legalization-now-that-68-of-population-supports-it/

It has been said that once the issue of marijuana legalization resides consistently near 65 percent in the public opinion polls, Congress will have no choice but to give it some consideration. Well, that time has come.

Not only has federal legalization managed to garner somewhere between 60%-65% favorability over the past few years, but the support has now grown considerably. The latest Gallup poll shows that nearly 70% of the population now believes the United States should legalize the leaf nationwide. It’s a signal to the boys and girls on Capitol Hill that now is the time to get serious about legal weed. But will they listen?

The country still doesn’t know which party is going to control Congress in 2021. As of now, the Democrats and Republicans are still evenly split — 48-48 — and election officials are still counting votes. Cannabis advocates hope that the Dems, who already have the majority in the House of Representatives, can snatch the two Senate seats needed in Georgia, allowing them to enter the next legislative session with all of the power on Capitol Hill. But it’s just as likely that the Republicans will maintain control of the upper chamber, giving us yet another Congress in gridlock.

If the Democrats take the Senate, however, the chances of a marijuana reform bill getting passed are pretty good, but if the Republicans snag it, not so much. Still, Congress is there to represent the people. It is our voice in the nation’s capital. So, if the national public opinion surveys show that most Americans want legal weed, federal lawmakers have to at least discuss it, right?

They should, that’s for sure.

But if you’ve ever had the sneaking suspicion that the federal government doesn’t really care what the people want, much less enough to change the law, well, you’d be right. Sadly, Congress doesn’t have any interest in public opinion, according to a study from Princeton and Northwestern University. In fact, the American standpoint is never even considered.

Professors Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page found that roughly 90% of the population has zero effect on policy change. Absolutely none. “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy,” the professors wrote.

And no, this is not just the federal government’s typical response to drugs. This blatant disregard comes into play with matters like the national debt, education, and the economy. So what chance does marijuana really have?

Federal lawmakers only consider one thing when hashing out national policy, and that is money, according to professors Gilens and Page. The study shows that it’s actually the hundreds of politically active companies dropping billions of dollars on campaign contributions and lobbying efforts that are calling the shots in D.C.

Considering that our elected officials spend more than half their time in office fundraising for their next campaign, appeasing their donors is of the utmost importance. The cannabis industry understands this and plays this political game itself. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t come with the same ferocity as other business sectors.

The cannabis trade reportedly spent $11 million on lobbying efforts in 2019, which is only a drop in the bucket when compared to the legal alcohol industry’s annual $30 million. The weed business needs to grease more Republican wheels if it wants to see nationwide legalization in the next decade. That means playing better politics and helping more of the right people get or stay elected. Marijuana is already on the Congressional radar, but someone has to give them a reason to care.

And the will of the American people isn’t it.

So don’t expect Congress, a political menagerie with a measly 18% approval rating, to get to work on federal marijuana legalization simply because the American people told Gallup that they want legal weed. Rest assured, Congress couldn’t care less about those numbers. Depending on how the Senate votes shake out, it could be difficult enough to get the suits to agree on items like decriminalization and other plans that the Biden Administration has promised.

We may see some progress this year in terms of marijuana, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it to come.

Federal Government To Blame For More States Legalizing Marijuana, Arkansas Governor Says

The governor of Arkansas says the federal government’s lax approach to marijuana is to blame for the growing number of states that are enacting legalization.

“Whenever there’s not a clear federal position on legalization of marijuana, legalization of drugs, if there’s not a clear federal position, then there’s going to be a continued erosion and movement toward legalization of marijuana at the state level,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) told The Washington Post’s Bob Costa.

While President Donald Trump’s first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, rescinded formal Obama-era guidance that directed federal prosecutors to generally not interfere with state cannabis laws, the current administration has nonetheless refrained from launching any kind of full-scale crackdown on local policies or people complying with them.

“As long as the federal government is saying, ‘We’re just going to turn a blind eye to whatever the states say,’ then it’s going to continue that pressure—because there’s so many dollars that go with that, that they’re going to continue to have those initiatives,” Hutchinson said in the interview last week. “There are going to be huge advertising dollars that go with it, and if the federal government does not take a clear position, they’ll probably continue to pass.”

Arkansas voters approved a medical cannabis ballot measure in 2016.

Hutchinson, who served as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) under President George W. Bush, noted in the Post interview that Arkansas activists tried to place a marijuana legalization measure on the state’s ballot this year. They were not able to collect enough signatures to qualify amid the coronavirus pandemic and resulting social distancing measures, however.

“They were not successful, but we know that they will come back,” Hutchinson said.

During the Bush administration, Hutchinson oversaw DEA raids of medical cannabis dispensaries in California.

Voters in five more states approved ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana in some form this month, with Oregon and Washington, D.C. voters passing broader drug policy reform measures.

One-Year Tax Break For Cannabis Industry

SAN FRANCISCO — The cannabis industry will receive a one-year tax break from San Francisco, as reported by The San Francisco Examiner on Thursday, November 5.

In November 2018, San Francisco voters approved a tax on cannabis. This new tax break will further delay its enforcement. Rafael Mandelman, who serves on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, proposed the tax break, saying “in light of our efforts to support small businesses, this is not a time to be imposing a new tax on small businesses.”

He argues “many of these businesses have been paying rent on their empty locations for years and need time to grow their businesses and recoup some of these costs.”

Mandelman’s proposal was approved Wednesday, November 4 by the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee. On Tuesday, November 9, the entire board will be voting on it. If passed, the cannabis industry will receive a one-year tax break.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult, according to AnnaRae Grabstein, the NorCal Cannabis Company’s chief compliance officer. She says “we are not in an economic position to take on additional taxes that other businesses are not subject to in the midst of the pandemic.” A rise in taxes, Grabstein says, would “cause us to close or force us to relocate” outside San Francisco.

Taxes will be imposed on the cannabis industry starting January 1, 2021 unless the full board approves Mandelman’s proposal on November 9. Under his proposal, the cannabis industry will pay taxes after a year, starting January 1, 2022.

Election Day was a green party for SF cannabis dispensaries

When things get stressful, people tend to turn to pot.

States turning red, blue, striped? It seems like an occasion tailor-made for cannabis, but until recently, it’s been difficult to say just how big a slice of the populace is prone to seek THC in tense, large-scale news moments.

That’s because, in the past, if one admitted to relying on weed to get them through an evening with Wolf Blitzer, they usually did so privately. Handcuffed by the law, the illegality of cannabis meant discussion of its use was relegated to the shadows. Given California’s own legal recreational market started in 2018, that makes this year’s election the first presidential campaign in which buying pot to cope was a viable option for all San Franciscans.

And, according to representatives from several of the city’s most popular dispensaries, traffic and sales did indeed increase as result of 2020’s marquee political affair. Eliot Dobris, spokesperson for the Apothecarium — which has San Francisco locations in the Marina, the Castro, and SoMa — told SFGATE that things were actually busiest prior to Election Day itself. “We definitely saw more people ordering delivery and coming into our dispensaries in the week before the election,” Dobris said. “Also, the average order size was up, with people stocking up especially on edibles and flowers.” In addition, Dobris noted that preroll packs and gummies were specifically moving swiftly in the lead-up to Tuesday.

Drakari Donaldson, co-founder and CEO for Nob Hill’s California Street Cannabis, noted that the short span of days separating Halloween from Election Day this year also meant a bit of a combined surge in terms of sales.“We’ve definitely seen a jump in sales through Halloween weekend and earlier this week,” Donaldson said. “As I listened in on my staff and their conversations with customers, I also overheard a lot of customers talk about stocking up before the election.”

The same was true for the Apothecarium, where Dobris noted that the trend explained a less robust turnout on Tuesday proper. “Not surprisingly,” Dobris reasoned, “we saw a small dip in traffic on Election Day itself, since so many people had already stocked up.” In addition to the added business that came from voters looking to counteract anticipated stress from watching the returns roll in on Tuesday (and beyond), several dispensaries also celebrated the occasion by offering special deals and promotions.

At California Street Cannabis, a 20% off discount was offered to all shoppers with an “I Voted” sticker. A similar promotion was also made available to patrons of Barbary Coast, which has locations in SoMa and the Inner Sunset.“We offered several promos and discounts for people with ‘I Voted!’ stickers,” confirmed Barbary Coast co-founder and CEO Jesse Henry, “and we definitely saw more people than we normally would on a regular Tuesday. The excitement of the day was definitely in the air.”

San Francisco cannabis market expands slowly but surely via social equity program

Get in-depth analysis from MJBizCon’s Passholder Days about how 2020 local elections in California might impact the marijuana industry as well as financial insights into recent hurdles affecting MJ operators in the state. It’s all available to you on demand.

San Francisco is the birthplace of the modern medical marijuana industry.

But the city’s cannabis industry has been fairly stagnant the past two decades, with regulators approving only a few dozen storefront dispensaries to sell MMJ.

Over the past few years, however, there’s been a slow but steady march to significantly expand the industry, potentially by scores – or even hundreds – of new licensed businesses.

That’s because, after California legalized adult-use marijuana in 2016, San Francisco leaders revamped the rules governing the city’s industry and adopted a new system that will issue business licenses both for so-called “legacy” retailers that have been operational for years as well as social equity applicants and incubators.

That eventually led to the opening on Oct. 9 of the newly remodeled Stiizy Union Square shop, which is owned and run by Cindy de la Vega, a Latina and qualified social equity applicant who partnered with the Shryne Group.

De la Vega’s is one of 11 new social equity permits that have been issued to date by the San Francisco Office of Cannabis. And the agency has a long way to go in processing applications.

The office, which has received 380 cannabis business applications as of October, will be issuing permits on a rolling basis for eight different license types:

Cultivation.
Delivery retail.
Distribution.
Microbusiness.
Manufacturing.
Retail storefront.
Retail with consumption lounge.
Testing lab.

As of October, an agency spokesman said, 139 applications had been processed, and 24 were in the final phase.

One company, FGW Haight, is so close to the finish line that the company announced it had already been purchased – by Oakland-based Harborside for $2.1 million – before it even received its city or state permits. That shop is slated to open sometime in the first half of 2021.

That deal suggests there’s considerable interest in the San Francisco cannabis market from major companies, particularly because there’s room for the industry to grow.

It also means the current 79 legal retailers in the city – 39 stores and 40 delivery companies – will face new competition.

The main question is: How many companies will eventually open and when, since it takes most new applicants years to become licensed?

“The industry is transforming, but it’s transforming at a snail’s pace,” said California consultant Menaka Mahajan, who has advised several marijuana applicants in San Francisco.

“The people I tend to talk to … are in it to win it. They’re hanging on, and they’re very determined to make it through this process.”

Hurdle after hurdle

According to a step-by-step guide from the San Francisco Office of Cannabis, companies must complete at least eight procedures before they can obtain a city permit. Each step can take weeks to months.

Among the more expensive requirements – particularly for those hoping to win a retail license – is having a location ready to go and holding on to that location during the entire permitting process.

That alone can become a disqualifying hurdle, because many social equity applicants can’t afford hundreds of thousands of dollars – or even millions – to rent a commercial space for that long, let alone pay for required build-outs.

“If you’re completely dialed, and you know exactly what you’re doing and you’ve got a friend in every (city) department, two years is your minimum timeline. That’s your best-case scenario,” said Johnny Delaplane, the president of the San Francisco Cannabis Retailers Alliance.

“I think for most people it’s going to be three to four years just to get from applying to opening their doors for business.”

Delaplane, who also is a partner in FGW Haight, said that shop has taken about 2½ years to get where it’s at today – and that shop is still months from opening.

Audie Vergara, head of corporate communications for the Shryne Group, said it took his company roughly 3½ years to get the new Union Square shop open.

That included several months of construction delays because of the coronavirus.

But the morning the doors opened, Vergara said, “we had a line around the corner, which really surprised us,” because the business didn’t expect as much of a crowd amid ongoing coronavirus concerns.

Moreover, the Shryne Group has plans for two more social equity-licensed shops in San Francisco, including another that’s slated to open before Christmas.

The social equity partner is professional boxer Karim Mayfield, a San Francisco native.

Vergara said he’s not sure how many other companies have similar plans, but he reckons it’s a decent number.

“I don’t think San Francisco is over yet, in terms of action and activity,” Vergara said. “If we haven’t stopped our activities, we can’t be the only ones.”

Uncertain changes

It’s unclear how many of the 380 applications will make it to the finish line, particularly among retailers.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is weighing a proposal – introduced in February – to cease accepting new retail marijuana license applications.

The city also already limits corporate interests in retail operations to a maximum of four, meaning operators such as Harborside and the Shryne Group wouldn’t be able to buy up all of the shops, even if they wanted to.

It’s also still unclear how many of the 380 remain viable.

Many likely already dropped their plans or have been unable to afford to wait for the city to process their paperwork, Delaplane said.

“I’m sure (the cost of waiting has) narrowed the pool. I don’t know how much,” he said.

“But there are certainly projects you hear about being abandoned because people can’t afford to pay the rent anymore, or their initial financing partner dropped out.

“So that’s going to have an impact on how many dispensaries there’s going to be in San Francisco, ultimately, is who has the staying power.”

Social equity applicant Alexis Bronson is an example.

He filed six business license applications and tried lining up financing with multiple big-name companies – including multistate operators MedMen Enterprises and Harvest Health & Recreation, and even marijuana publisher High Times – before they all pulled out and forced him to find another investor.

Bronson, who’s been trying to get a license for about 2½ years, estimated he’s roughly $250,000 shy of the capital he needs to open his shop.

Even if he were to land an investor tomorrow, he said, it would still take him months to get his store open.

But he’s not giving up.

“As long as the application is on file, I may come out of this,” Bronson said. “You just have to keep fighting somehow.”

John Schroyer can be reached at johns@mjbizdaily.com

Election Day was a major rejection of the war on drugs

In every state where marijuana legalization or another drug policy reform was on the ballot, it won.

We still don’t know with certainty who will be the next president of the United States. But this year’s election results have given us a lot more clarity on one thing: American voters, even conservative ones, are ready to reel back the US’s war on drugs.

In every state where a ballot measure asked Americans to reconsider the drug war, voters sided with reformers. In Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota, voters legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. In Mississippi and South Dakota (separate from the full legalization measure), voters legalized medical marijuana.

In Oregon, voters decriminalized — but not legalized — all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Also in Oregon, voters legalized the use of psilocybin, a psychedelic drug found in magic mushrooms, for supervised therapeutic uses.

In Washington, DC, voters in effect decriminalized psychedelic plants, following the lead of several other cities.

With its vote, Oregon became the first state in the US in modern times to decriminalize all drugs. And marijuana is now legalized in 15 states and DC, although DC still doesn’t allow sales.
A map of marijuana legalization laws in the US.

All of the measures won with relatively strong support, by 5 or more percentage points, in an election season that could otherwise come down to the smallest of margins — literally tenths of a percent — in the presidential and congressional races. Montana, Mississippi, and South Dakota are especially peculiar, handing big wins to President Donald Trump on Tuesday but also to marijuana legalization supporters.

But this maybe isn’t that surprising: Over the past decade, polls have shown marijuana legalization, for example, is increasingly popular. In several polls, it gets majority support even among Republican voters, despite their greater levels of resistance to drug policy reform in general.

Together, these ballot measures’ successes amount to a significant repudiation of America’s war on drugs. US drug policy has for decades been built on the principle that drugs should be illegal, with the criminal justice system acting as a deterrent to use and addiction. Voters clearly want to move away from that.

It’s telling, though, that 13 of the 15 states that have legalized marijuana so far have been forced to do it by ballot initiative. For whatever reason, elected lawmakers and legislatures remain scared to touch this issue. So a patchwork of ballot measures has moved the US in an unexpected direction. That trend continued on Election Day 2020.
This is a big rejection of the war on drugs

Collectively, the year’s ballot measures amount to a major shift in US drug policy.

In the four states that legalized marijuana on Election Day, the policy will generally work as it has in other states that have legalized marijuana so far. Adults 21 and older will be able to possess and, eventually, legally buy the drug. State agencies will regulate production and sales, and local jurisdictions may be able to ban marijuana retailers within their borders. There will be taxes on marijuana. Depending on the state, home-growing marijuana might be allowed.

That’s a big shift from where marijuana was before in these states, where possession and sales could still be punished with up to jail or prison time. It’s a particularly radical change for South Dakota, which, unlike many other states that legalize recreational use, had not yet legalized medical marijuana before Tuesday.

In Oregon, possession of small amounts of all drugs, including cocaine and heroin, will no longer be punished with jail or prison time. Instead, those caught with the drugs will get a choice to pay a $100 fine or do a “completed health assessment” in an addiction recovery center.

Unlike legalization, decriminalization does not mean sales will be allowed. In general, decriminalization means the removal of criminal penalties — particularly prison time — for the possession and use of a drug, but not the legalization of sales. So people wouldn’t get arrested for having small amounts of heroin or cocaine on them, but don’t expect stores legally selling either substance to pop up.

Oregon had already legalized marijuana for recreational and medical uses, so the initiative mostly won’t change anything there, with one exception: On top of directing the savings from the initiative (due to, say, less incarceration) to more addiction treatment, the measure will also redirect some marijuana tax revenues to treatment. The measure’s proponents say that will all add up to at least $100 million more funding for addiction treatment a year — which would effectively quadruple how much the state spends on treatment outside of Medicaid and the criminal justice system.

Separately, Oregon approved a measure that will allow the use of a psychedelic drug under the supervision of trained facilitators at “psilocybin service centers.” This approach actually has growing evidence behind it — to the point that psychedelic drugs are currently working through clinical trials approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Based on the studies, the guided hallucinogenic trips may help people overcome serious mental health issues like addiction, end-of-life anxiety, and PTSD, although experts say we still need more evidence.

In milder moves, DC decriminalized a host of psychedelic plants — following the lead of Denver and other cities. And Mississippi and South Dakota legalized medical pot to allow the use and purchase of marijuana for patients with certain qualifying conditions.

Crucially, federal drug policy won’t change as a result of these measures, with marijuana and other drugs remaining illegal at the federal level. But the federal government has, since President Barack Obama’s second term, generally taken a hands-off approach to allowing states to change their drug policies, on marijuana in particular, with little to no federal interference. It remains to be seen how that will play out with the more sweeping measures in Oregon.

If nothing else, though, the approval of the various kinds of measures shows that Americans are increasingly fed up with the war on drugs.
Politicians are scared to touch stronger drug policy reform

Over the past decade and a half, many states have reduced their criminal penalties for drug offenses. Democratic lawmakers in particular have increasingly spoken favorably of ending the war on drugs, particularly given its disproportionate negative effect on communities of color.

But when it comes to the more aggressive measures that would actually end the drug war, like marijuana legalization and broader drug decriminalization, politicians have played it cautiously. Polls show a solid majority of Americans (around two-thirds) and especially high numbers of Democrats (more than three-fourths) back marijuana legalization. Yet the Democratic nominee for president, former Vice President Joe Biden, is still opposed to full legalization, arguing instead for a milder measure in marijuana decriminalization at the federal level, to remove prison time but not allow sales.

It’s under this framework that activists, surmising they had more voter support than politicians were willing to admit, have pushed forward with ballot measures. In 2012, the approach made Colorado and Washington the first two states to legalize marijuana, with 11 states following since (and two other states enacting legalization through their legislatures).

The efforts have now been successful in more conservative states, like Montana and South Dakota. But activists have also started to push beyond the realm of marijuana legalization, as seen in the drug decriminalization and medical psychedelic initiatives in Oregon.

The approach, however, is limited in a way that defies partisan lines. It’s simply much easier to get a legally binding question on the ballot changing drug policy in, say, Montana than it is in New York. That’s why the order of legalization doesn’t really follow the levels of support you’d expect based on voters’ party affiliations or a state’s more liberal attitudes.

Still, the results show quite strongly that voters are eager to reel back America’s war on drugs. A remaining question is if politicians will catch up with the clear message voters sent on Election Day, even as voters gave more muddied signals in many other areas.

Election Could Add Political Pressure to Lift Federal Marijuana Ban

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — Voters in four states from different regions of the country could embrace broad legal marijuana sales on Election Day and a sweep would highlight how public acceptance of cannabis is cutting across geography, demographics and the nation’s deep political divide.

The Nov. 3 contests in New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota and Montana will shape policies in those states while the battle for control of Congress and the White House could determine whether marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

Already, most Americans live in states where marijuana is legal in some form and 11 now have fully legalized the drug for adults — Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont. It’s also legal in Washington, D.C.

In conservative Mississippi, voters will consider competing ballot proposals that would legalize medicinal marijuana, which is allowed in 33 states.

Although California growers are believed to supply a large percentage of the marijuana consumed nationally, the federal prohibition means exports are illegal so growers who supply that demand are operating outside the state’s cannabis regulations.

Nick Kovacevich, CEO of KushCo Holdings, which supplies packaging, vape hardware and solvents for the industry, called the election “monumental” for the future of marijuana.

New Jersey, in particular, could prove a linchpin in the populous Northeast, leading New York and Pennsylvania toward broad legalization, he said.

“It’s laying out a domino effect … that’s going to unlock the largest area of population behind the West Coast,” Kovacevich said.

The cannabis initiatives will draw voters to the polls who could influence other races, including the tight U.S. Senate battle in Arizona.

In Colorado, one supporter of legal cannabis could lose his seat. Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who is struggling in an increasingly Democratic state where some in the industry have lost faith in his ability to get things done in Washington.

Despite the spread of legalization in states and a largely hands-off approach under President Donald Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate has blocked cannabis reform, so under federal law marijuana remains illegal and in the same class as heroin or LSD. That has discouraged major banks from doing business with marijuana businesses, which also were left out in the coronavirus relief packages.

“Change doesn’t come from Washington but to Washington,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “States are sending a clear message to the federal government that their constituencies want to see cannabis legalization.”

The presidential election could also influence federal marijuana policy, though the issue has been largely forgotten in a campaign dominated by the pandemic, health care and the nation’s wounded economy.

Trump’s position remains somewhat opaque. He has said he is inclined to support bipartisan efforts to ease the U.S. ban on marijuana but hasn’t established a clear position on broader legalization. He’s appointed attorneys general who loath marijuana, but his administration has not launched crackdowns against businesses in states where pot is legal.

Joe Biden has said he would decriminalize — but not legalize — the use of marijuana, while expunging all prior cannabis use convictions and ending jail time for drug use alone. But legalization advocates recall with disgust that he was a leading Senate supporter of a 1994 crime bill that sent droves of minor drug offenders to prison.

Even if there are lingering doubts about Biden, the Democratic Party is clearly more welcoming to cannabis reform, especially its progressive wing. Vice presidential nominee and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California has said making pot legal at the federal level is the “smart thing to do.”

Familiar arguments are playing out across the states.

Opponents fear children will be lured into use, roads will become drag strips for stoned drivers and widespread consumption will spike health care costs.

Those backing legalization point out the market is already here, though in many cases still thriving underground, and argue that products should be tested for safety. Legal sales would mean tax money for education and other services, and social-justice issues are also in play, after decades of enforcement during the war on drugs.

An added push this year could come from the virus-damaged economy — states are strapped for cash and legalized cannabis holds out the promise of a tax windfall. One Arizona estimate predicts $255 million a year would eventually flow for state and local governments, in Montana, $50 million.

Despite the pandemic and challenges including heavy taxes and regulation, marijuana sales are climbing. Arcview Market Research/BDSA expects U.S. sales to climb to $16.3 billion this year, up from $12.4 billion in 2019.

In New Jersey, voters are considering a constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana use for people 21 and over. It’s attracted broad support in voter surveys. If approved, it’s unclear when shops would open. The amendment also subjects cannabis to the state’s sales tax, and lets towns and cities add local taxes.

The Arizona measure known as Proposition 207 would let people 21 and older possess up to an ounce or a smaller quantity of concentrates, allow for sales at licensed retailers and for people to grow their own plants. Retail sales could start in May. State voters narrowly rejected a previous legalization effort in 2016.

If Montana voters approve, sales would start in 2022. Montana passed a medicinal marijuana law in 2004 and updated it in 2016. The proposed law would allow only owners of current medical marijuana businesses to apply for licenses to grow and sell marijuana for the broader marketplace for the first year.

Perhaps no other state epitomizes changing views more than solidly conservative South Dakota, which has some of the country’s strictest drug laws.

The sparsely populated state could become the first to approve medicinal and adult-use marijuana at the same time. However, legalizing broad pot sales would be a jump for a state where lawmakers recently battled for nearly a year to legalize industrial hemp, a non-intoxicating cannabis plant.

Meanwhile, a confusing situation has unfolded in Mississippi, after more than 100,000 registered voters petitioned to put Initiative 65 on the ballot. It would allow patients to use medical marijuana to treat debilitating conditions, as certified by physicians. But legislators put an alternative on the ballot, which sponsors of the original proposal consider an attempt to scuttle their effort.

Hawkins is among those already looking toward 2021, when a new round of states could move toward legalization, including New York and New Mexico.

“There is clearly a tide,” Hawkins said. “We are moving toward a critical mass of states that … will bring about the end of federal prohibition on cannabis.”

What Makes a Good Cannabis Strain?

Any seasoned cannabis user knows that the effects you feel after consuming your preferred products have to do with the strain of cannabis you are using. From an uplifting, energetic experience to a calm night on the couch (that’s the essence of indica vs. sativa), the strain you choose to enjoy can offer a specific feeling to match your needs. But what makes a good cannabis strain?
cannabis
It’s in the Genes

The strain of any particular cannabis plant is determined through selective breeding that has taken place over recent years and decades. Just as humans have bred other common crops to better suit our needs, cannabis has been molded and nurtured by human hands and technologies into the potent and diverse crops grown around the world today. We have manipulated these plants on a genetic level to use them for our advantage – and we’ve done the same with cannabis.

This selective breeding results in a plant that is bred to display specific characteristics over others. And in the world of cannabis, this comes down to breeding plants with particular chemical profiles in the form of certain cannabinoids and terpenes that provide the bulk of how the effects are experienced when consumed. Over many years, plants have been bred with these desired characteristics in mind, and this led to the immense amount of strains available today.

Today, you can get your hands on a particular strain at any step of the production line—from an online seed bank to buying flower in a dispensary. These options allow for a diverse choice of effects that a consumer can enjoy recreationally or use for a particular medical condition.

If you intend to grow your own plants, knowing the strain of your seeds is important. If you know the type of feel you are looking for (i.e., the kind of high), you can ask a budtender, and they will direct you towards strains that can deliver just that.

But the question remains…
What Makes a Good Strain?

A good strain is a somewhat subjective description. When you find a particular variety of cannabis that you enjoy and meets your desired effects, that’s always good. But there are other factors to consider when choosing a strain. High-quality is a better way to think of it than merely ‘good.’

Several important factors come into play during a cannabis plant’s life cycle with quality of strain in mind. These can range from the conditions that the plants are grown alongside what types of fertilizers and nutrients were used during the process. Generally, you want to avoid pesticides and other toxic chemicals when looking for a quality strain.

Another common qualifier for a good cannabis strain is potency. Again, this can vary from person to person as some people like a potent strain, while others only wish to experience slight effects.

All things considered, the ultimate deciding factor in a good cannabis strain is you. If you find an option that makes you feel your desired effects and you’re sure that it has been grown without the use of any toxic chemicals, you have a strain worth keeping.