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Licensed vs. Unlicensed Dispensaries in San Diego

The legalization of cannabis in California brought with it many changes in the industry including higher taxes, updated rules and regulations, new mandatory three-stage product testing, and plenty of confusion as to what is and is not allowed in the industry.

California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control is now heading up the organization of the state’s cannabis market by regulating and monitoring the production and sale of cannabis products. The Bureau is also responsible for licensing retailers, distributors, testing labs, microbusinesses, and temporary cannabis events. This means that they are also in charge, along with the DOI-CEU and its other constituents, of figuring out what to do about manufacturers and retailers who continue to operate without licenses and refuse to conform to the modern laws and regulations of 2019.

In San Diego alone, there are still hundreds of delivery-only dispensaries, and dozens of storefronts alike operating illegally, so what exactly are the differences between licensed and unlicensed shops? Lets discuss two important areas!

TESTING

Licensed retail cannabis storefronts in San Diego may only sell products which have passed through the three stages of BCC required testing.

Stage One includes Cannabinoid Testing, Moisture Content Testing, Category II Residual Solvents and Processing Chemicals Testing, Category I Residual Pesticides Testing, Microbial Impurities Testing (A. fumigatus, A. flavus, A. niger, A. terreus), Microbial Impurities Testing (Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp.), Homogeneity Testing of Edible Cannabis Products. To summarize, this stage of tests is mainly to determine exact levels of cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBN, etc.) as well as to make sure there are no known harmful molds or other microbial contaminants in the products.

Stage Two includes Category I Residual Solvents and Processing Chemicals Testing, Category II Residual Pesticides Testing, and Foreign Material Testing. To summarize, these tests help to determine whether harmful and poisonous pesticides or additives were used in the process of producing the cannabis products.

Stage Three includes Terpenoids Testing, Mycotoxins Testing, Heavy Metals Testing, and Water Activity Testing of Solid or Semi-Solid Edibles. This stage is crucial regarding vape cartridges, as testing laboratories around the state are reporting the finding of toxic metals in some cartridges, which are then rejected and sent back to the manufacturer.

These standards of testing are extremely important to ensure that cannabis consumers are getting the safest possible products. Since unlicensed dispensaries do not follow all of the processes required by those which are licensed, the products you purchase from them could contain pesticides, molds, and other harmful contaminants which can damage the brain and body.

Additionally, stage I of testing is instrumental to finding out the true cannabinoid percentages of the products you’re consuming. Advertised percentages of cannabis products from unlicensed shops are nearly always inaccurate, because they aren’t required to test per batch of products. In other words, if an unlicensed shop says their Banana OG is testing at 30% THC, there’s really no way to tell if that’s true because there’s no way to show accountability. Licensed shops must be provided with certificates of analysis proving full testing has been completed on each batch of products which comes into the store.

 

TAXES

Licensed shops in San Diego are now required to collect a 27.75% total tax on all products in the store, including paraphernalia and accessories. Broken down, 15% goes to the California excise tax, 7.75% goes to the state sales tax, and San Diego takes a city tax of 5%. Although nobody likes to pay more for things, other states have shown us what sort of positive impact cannabis taxes can have on the economy!

For example, in Aurora, CO over $1,500,000 in cannabis tax revenue has been invested directly into combatting homelessness by providing shelters, meals, an basic essentials. In Pueblo County, CO local marijuana taxes have paid for over $600,000 student scholarships for the past three years. Colorado as a state voted on amendment 64, which allocated the first $40,000,000 collected in excise taxes directly towards the BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) program.

Washington has focused most of their tax dollars on public health. Financial assistance has partly been aimed at substance abuse programs, and mainly allocated towards paying the state’s share of Medicaid, which provides health insurance to roughly 1.8 million low-income residents of the state. They are also in the process of creating a plan to divide portions of cannabis tax towards k-12 schools, in an effort to hire more faculty and provide supplies for classrooms!

Here in California, Governor Jerry Brown estimated that in 2018 California would bring in an estimated $645 million in cannabis tax revenues, when actually we fell short earning nearly half that at $345 million. So why is that? A large chunk of that has to do with unlicensed storefronts absorbing much of the local cannabis business due to their low prices and tax free visits. If they aren’t paying taxes, all of the money goes into the pockets of the owners rather than being redistributed into state and county funding.

Another key element to the missing revenue is the lack of licenses being distributed for potentially lucrative businesses and events like smoke lounges and festivals. Some cities around California have locations where cannabis users can go to safely and comfortably consume, which is huge for out of state visitors. Tourists and visitors come from other states to San Diego to vacation and experience cannabis while they visit, but if they purchase something to smoke, finding a legal place to smoke it can be difficult. Public consumption is still illegal, most hotels forbid smoking (especially weed), if you smoke in your vehicle you risk a ticket or worse. San Diego city officials have discussed plans to offer designated places to consume, but haven’t released any official notice of permission as of yet.

In the end we can agree the start for recreational cannabis in California has been a bit rough, but what truly matters to most is getting clean, safe products to enjoy! Cannabis still has so much to offer the community economically, socially, and medicinally, and we’ve only just begun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desert Rose Nursery clones

Desert Rose Nursery clones

Hello everyone! My name is Ron Chavez, Executive Director and Head Grower for

Desert Rose Nursery. I want to thank Zach and the team over at A Green Alternative for the

opportunity to introduce you to Desert Rose Nursery. Desert Rose Nursery is committed to

bringing patients the best genetics that the world’s most talented growers have to offer. We do

this by searching for the best phenotypes available.

Phenotypes, genetics, what does all of this even mean?

Simply put, we find the cream of the crop and offer them to you. Seeds and clones have their

own distinct advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages of using seeds is that you

may be able to find that one special phenotype of a certain strain that is superior to others.

It’s sort of like hitting the lottery. With clones, someone has already hit the lottery and we

are sharing the winnings with you. Clones offer uniformity, a true representation of the strain

with the flavor and effect you were looking for.

Now, a pro tip for all of the people who subscribe to this blog. We drop off new clones to

A Green Alternative every Tuesday afternoon. The time varies, but Tuesday is the day to catch

them with the biggest selection and the freshest roots. Spring is here! it’s time to start clearing

out an area in the backyard or find the sunniest spot on your back patio. Get your Desert Rose

Nursery branded clones at A Green Alternative and Happy Farming!

Pass Me the Bhang – The Fight for the Legalization of Marijuana in India

Pass Me the Bhang – The Fight for the Legalization of Marijuana in India

Visitors to the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh are left mesmerized by the stunning landscape of the region, lush greenery, cascading waterfalls, the majestic Himalayas in the backdrop. And there’s something else – marijuana!

Clusters of cannabis plants here, there and everywhere! Growing freely, with unbridled joy, without a care in the world. Farmers in many states in India grow marijuana, also called as “ganja” or the Indian help plant, within and around their properties. Marijuana is one of the most commonly grown drugs in the world, which is consumed by 125 million people each year. In India, marijuana has a rich history behind it. It is intrinsically tied to the Hindu religion and mysticism. Indians have consumed and celebrated different versions of the marijuana plant such as bhang, weed and charas (hash) for over a thousand years. Hindu religious texts mention marijuana in a positive context, and say that it helps the user attain ecstasy in the true sense of the word.

Lord Shiva – the most powerful of all Hindu Gods, loves smoking weed, according to several mythological texts. It is said that Lord Shiva once wandered off into the fields every time after an argument with his wife, Goddess Parvathi. Tired, he fell asleep under a leafy plant. Upon waking up, Shiva tasted the plant’s leaves and felt instantly rejuvenated and full of energy. He made the plant his favorite food. That plant, which captivated Lord Shiva so much, is none other than the cannabis plant.

Indians have a tradition of drinking bhang, a derivative of the cannabis plant on Holi, everybody’s favorite Hindu festival which is celebrated with joy. Bhang is very much a part of the Hindu religion and culture. Indeed, the Hindu soldiers of the past would drink bhang to give them courage just before a battle, just as soldiers in Western armies would have a whiskey.

That’s all really great, and very heartening for many of us, but here’s the problem – marijuana is still illegal in India because of an unfortunate law that was put in place in the 1980’s under pressure from the U.S. government. Back then, the U.S. was fighting the much criticized “War on Drugs” and literally forced its allies such as India to sign the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS), which made marijuana a banned substance.

Unwilling to do anything that would upset the world’s richest and most powerful country, the Indian government led by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi banned the use of marijuana. Anybody caught buying or selling marijuana was now at risk of being sent to prison. Marijuana, which was a part of the Indian culture and religion for hundreds of years, was now banned in India, because of a silly law which nobody in the India wanted, not even the government.

A lot has changed since then in the West. Marijuana is today approved for medicinal use in the U.S. and there is a growing realization that the “War on Drugs” which criminalized so many for no good reason was a mistake, to say the least. But marijuana is still banned in India, not even allowed for medicinal use. There are a lot of people that go to prison each year for the possession of the drug. The only thing thats dangerous about the drug is getting caught with it!

Legalization of marijuana would create tens of thousands of new jobs in India, where unemployment is such a big problem. In Colorado marijuana legalization has created over 10,000 new jobs.

The government in India is aware of economic and social benefits of the cannabis plant. Steps are being taken in the right direction. The government of the state of Uttarakhand has made it legal for farmers to cultivate the Indian hemp plant. This is a good move but not nearly enough of the farmers are allowed to sell their harvest to the government. Unfortunately the farmers are excluded from selling their hemp crop to private industry buyers.

There is a growing cry in the country to legalize the use of marijuana. After all, marijuana was legal in India for much of its history, except for the last 30 years. It is just not right to deny the people of India the right to something that is such a big part of their culture.

Budtender is Now a Job – AGA on Playboy.com

Budtender is now a job, and this is what they do.

Yoonj and Marshall from Playboy Enterprises visited us in late October and we talked to them about our passion for medical marijuana products and our compassionate delivery. As Dr. Blair puts it, our staff is trained to

…Treat the patient as though they were treating their mothers.

We really enjoyed spending the day interviewing with them, and are very happy to share this video with you. Thank you Playboy!

budtender

Link to the full Playboy piece here.