Growing pains: Oregon marijuana boom brings jobs — and complaints — for Josephine County
Grants Pass Daily Courier - By. Shaun Hall - 08/29/2016
GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Josephine County’s growing marijuana industry is experiencing growing pains.
The number of medical marijuana grow sites in the county has remained steady from a year ago, at about 2,500.
But growers who sell to retailers have been sprouting up — 38 new state-issued licenses have been granted this summer to people who plan to grow for the recreational market. More applications are pending.
Pivoting to take advantage of retailer preference for indoor-grown marijuana, these new operations are springing up in former pastures and fields across the county.
“This industry didn’t exist a year ago,” observed Dani Jurmann, standing outside a row of industrial-size greenhouses on Cedar Flat Road near Williams, where he and his family employ nearly 30 people growing marijuana for the recreational market. “The world has changed, and Oregon is at the forefront.”
There’s good and bad happening. The good includes jobs and investments. Jurmann pays employees $15 an hour to start, plus benefits. He employed contractors and suppliers to get the place up and running. He obtained land.
He also bought big greenhouse fans and framing lumber, and built a gravel road.
That’s where the bad comes in— some neighbors complain about noise from the fans, and the road had to be moved to avoid annoying a neighbor who complained about the new traffic.
Operating as Shadowbox Farms, Jurmann employs not only gardeners and trimmers, but a compliance officer and a foreman. The operation’s aim, besides providing 6 million servings of product a year, is to provide a living for his family and employees, in a career some might consider a dream job.
“We offer real jobs with a real future,” he said. “We’re supporting a lot of families here and that’s what’s important to us.”
It all comes with a price, of course. There’s the competition and the new neighbors, and a county planning department that has told him there’s a need for permits for those greenhouses.
In response, Jurmann has applied for the permits, said he’s willing to invest in new fans, and is planning to put up a line of closely packed trees to block sound and sight.
“We are working very hard to meet the needs of our neighbors,” says Jurmann’s wife, Angellina. “We are a mom and pop business. Our community reputation is really important to us.”
The fans are shut off by 8 p.m. nightly.
The whole operation is surrounded by an 8-foot-high chain-link fence. Dozens of cameras provide surveillance. A former stable has become an office, and there’s a room for young plants, in addition to a dozen or more new greenhouses topped with plastic and removable black covers, which give plants 12 hours of sunshine and 12 hours of shade. Every plant it tagged, so it can be tracked.
It’s a going concern and yet a work still in progress.
This week, the new road was put in. Last week, post holes had been dug for a new fence, outside Jurmann’s nearby home, where his four children are being raised. A couple dogs that looked anything but vicious lounged in the sun. The place bustled with workers.
“You couldn’t build something like this in six months without making a mess,” says Jurmann, a grower for the last decade who persuaded fellow family members to pool their money and give it a try.
He’s convinced his crop is superior to marijuana grown outdoors, where rain and wind and dust can take their toll, including how the product looks — an important consideration for retailers.
He predicts a glut of marijuana grown outdoors, which could cause prices for those products to drop, and affect the ability of outdoor growers to make a go of it.
“There’s only going to be the biggest and strongest that survive,” he said.
Oregon’s Legal Marijuana Raised More Than $25 Million In Tax Revenue This Year
CNN - By. Kate Samuelson - 08/23/2016
A statement on the Department of Revenue website explains that medical marijuana dispensaries started collecting a 25% tax on their recreational marijuana sales in January, which spokeswoman Joy Krawczyk told KGW has contributed to the high amount of tax, the revenue of which will pay for police, addiction programs and schools in the state.
In January alone, the state collected $3.48 million in taxes.
In 2014, Colorado brought in $76 million in tax revenue from legal cannabis sales when the state became one of just two (along with Washington) to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 or older. Figures from the state’s Department of Revenue in 2015 showed that itoutpaced revenue from alcohol taxes in the fiscal year ending on June 30.
By July 8 this year, Washington state’s treasury had taken in more than $250 million in excise tax since marijuana legalization began in July 2014.
Insiders share their stories from the 'fastest-growing industry in America'; marijuana isn’t included in mainstream jobs reports, but another report says pot outsold Girl Scout cookies in 2015
Some have messy buns and sleeve tattoos. Some have salon cuts and $2,000 suits.
Some are joining blue-collar unions, getting health benefits as they grow and sell a plant they’ve long loved. Some say they never touch it, but they’re standing guard outside shops and fiercely lobbying legislators in Sacramento to ensure that others can.
As public support and legalization of cannabis spreads, those who’ve quietly worked in California’s medical marijuana industry are slowly emerging from the shadows. And professionals who never would have considered joining the industry a couple of years ago are leaving behind traditional careers in law, real estate and finance as they flock to what they see as the next big boom.
“The fastest-growing industry in America is marijuana, period,” said Jake Bhattacharya, who recently quit his information technology job to open a cannabis testing lab in Upland.
With medical marijuana legal in 25 states and recreational use allowed in four, pot outsold Girl Scout Cookies in 2015, according to a report from Marijuana Business Daily, a 5-year-old news website covering the industry.
Pot retail sales are expected to hit $4 billion this year, and Marijuana Business Daily is projecting that number could nearly triple by 2020.
The actual size of the industry may already be much larger, too, since California hasn’t tracked its massive medical marijuana market in the 20 years since it’s been legal. And it could skyrocket if voters here and a handful of other states approve recreational use Nov. 8.
The lack of reliable data coupled with the “niche” aspect of the industry is why cannabis — and the connected marijuana jobs — isn’t included in mainstream economic and jobs reports, according to Christopher Thornberg, director of the Center for Economic Forecasting and Development at UC Riverside.
“It’s still too fly-by-night,” Thornberg said.
California’s Employment Development Department doesn’t track the diverse daisy chain of cannabis jobs either. And several recruitment firms said they don’t deal with the industry.
Job seekers and employers instead turn to Craigslist or specialized sites. There’s a recent post on WeedHire.com for a $75,000-a-year account manager at GFarmaLabs, which makes marijuana products in Anaheim, and one on 420careers.com for growers and trimmers at Buds & Roses dispensary in Los Angeles.
Working in the industry isn’t without complications.
It remains illegal at the federal level, which limits access to financial services and causes lingering concerns over raids by federal authorities.
California’s market is also emerging from two decades of nearly nonexistent regulation and intense battles with local governments who were less than welcoming to “potrepreneurs.” That legacy means newly licensed shops often still rely on growers and manufacturers in the gray market, and they struggle to survive alongside unlicensed operators who aren’t paying the same hefty taxes.
Then there’s the glaring disapproval that comes from shrinking (per the polls) but vocal pockets of the public. Fear of backlash from conservative family members or future business associates kept a number of cannabis workers from speaking on the record for this story.
“Let’s face it, of course there is a stigma,” said Juliet Murphy, a career coach who runs Juliet Murphy Career Development in Tustin.
Murphy expects that it would raise eyebrows for more traditional employers to see a weed industry job on someone’s résumé. However, Murphy sees it as less of an issue going forward as the industry becomes more mainstream and as millennials continue to transform the workforce.
“There are still a lot of kinks that are being worked out. But I think this presents an opportunity for a lot of jobs, provided that people do it right,” Murphy said. “I think in the next 5 to 10 years, it’s going to be huge.”
Businesses are gearing up as previously prohibited cannabis-infused drinks, cakes and candies are about to become a legal alternative to smoking marijuana
Melanie Sevcenko guardian.com
These days, the “pot brownie” is as outdated as Betty Crocker, with cannabis edibles reaching new highs in innovation and tastes. At Portland dispensary Oregon’s Finest, cannabis-infused root beer, artisan cake bites, chocolate truffles, gummy candies and even cold brew coffee are among the delicacies.
Recreational cannabis, in the form of flower (or “bud”), has been legal to purchase in Oregon since October 2015, but edibles have remained the forbidden fruit, available only to medical marijuana cardholders. From Thursday all that’s about to change.
Oregon has approved the sale of marijuana edibles to recreational consumers and sellers are preparing to unleash everything from cannabis-infused ice cream and frozen pizza to beef jerky on to the market.
Megan Marchetti of Oregon’s Finest said the shop is expecting a bump in sales, not least from customers who previously took the 10-mile pilgrimage across the bridge into Washington state – where edibles have been recreationally available since 2014.
It’s Marchetti’s opinion that Oregon will be the natural leader in cannabis snacky treats because, simply, it’s got better bud. “I lived in the Netherlands and all over the country, trying to figure out where the best weed in the world is. It’s in Oregon,” said Marchetti. “You combine that with Oregon’s need to have everything artisan and crafted, so you have really great products. Of everything I’ve seen our game is the tightest.”
As more US states move to legalization of cannabis, edibles have worried the authorities because they could potentially fall into the hands of children or prove worryingly strong for some users.
Oregon has arguably gone the furthest in its attempts to address these concerns. The temporary rules for 2 June – as determined by the Oregon health authority (OHA) – permit dispensaries to sell one cannabinoid edible containing a maximum of 15mg THC (the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis) per customer per day. “Fifteen mg can be too high for a lot of people who are new to THC edibles,” said David McNicoll, producer of Dave’s Space Cakes, a gluten-free cupcake. “You really need to start with 5mg and learn what your dosage level is.”
Oregon Responsible Edibles Council (Orec), of which McNicoll is a member, has launched a “Try Five” campaign, which encourages first-time users to consume edibles containing only 5mg THC – and avoid overindulgent freak-outs.
Protecting cannabis users also extends to their children, which is why the OHA requires all edibles, whether retail or medical, to be sealed in child-resistant safety packaging.
The number of reported marijuana exposures in children under the age of six in Oregon increased from 14 in 2014, to 25 in 2015 and already 10 cases have been reported in the first three months of this year. Rob Hendrickson, associate medical director at the Oregon Poison Center, said it’s possible that incidents will increase after 2 June, as edibles can be easily mistaken for regular baked goods or candy.
Packing rules will change again towards the end of 2016, when the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) absorbs the recreational market, as will potency levels. An entire package (or edible) will be limited to 50mg THC, with each serving capped at 5mg. That’s half the strength of medical edibles, and half the dosage permitted in Washington and Colorado.
The shifting rules are causing confusion. Producers of ice cream or soda, which is difficult to divide or score into 15mg THC servings, might have to sit this round out.
Yet some vendors are fast to adapt, like the producers of Sour Bhotz, a robot-shaped gummy edible which is among the top sellers at Oregon’s Finest. The fat-free and gluten-free candy will morph into something closer to “sour bitz” – robot parts – to qualify for the provisional THC limits. But the rewards on offer are huge.
Marijuana millionaires cashing in on cannabis legalisation
Edibles will be a big market, says John Kagia, director of industry analytics at New Frontier, a cannabis data-collecting firm. The reason, he explained, is multifold: edibles are attractive to non-smokers, they offer a discreet way to consume cannabis, and their selection and quality is as appealing for taste as it is for psychoactive effects. In Washington, edibles make up 10% of sales in the recreational market, but that number is growing rapidly. Oregon is expected to follow suit.
“It’s going to be huge,” said Laurie Wolf, founder of Laurie & MaryJane, which produces both sweet and savory edibles. “I think it’s going to be crazy in the beginning,” said Wolf, a professional chef and food author.
“My dream was to become the Martha Stewart of edibles,” said Wolf, whose Nut Mix and Almond Cake Bites took first and second prize at the Seattle DOPE Cup last year. “Since marijuana became recreationally legal, the edibles sales have dropped considerably,” she said. “We’re looking forward to them being back on the market.”
Yet before it can reach watering mouths in food form, all marijuana sold in Oregon must be screened for about 60 pesticides commonly used in cannabis cultivation, along with potency levels. Edibles, like Wolf’s cake bites, will undergo various lab tests, first as bud then as butter.
But that’s where the protocol gets hazy. Most edible producers are operating with small teams, limited funds and under little oversight, contributing to discrepancies between labeling and actual dosage.
According to a 2015 report by the Journal of the American Medical Association, of 75 edible products from 47 different brands across the country, 17% were accurately labeled, 23% were under-labeled, and 60% were over-labeled with respect to THC content.
“It’s complicated, because on a national level weed is illegal,” said Rodger Voelker, lab director at Oregon Grower’s (OG) Analytical, which tests cannabis for dispensary sales. “There is no level playing field in regards to quality, and no accountability. Until somebody tells them you can’t be deceiving customers, it’s going to continue to happen.”
A critical step in producing consistent edibles involves a finished product test. Unfortunately, there isn’t one. Instead, labs have devised their own methods – none of which have been validated by any national regulatory body, like the FDA, which is yet to step into the edibles sector.
OG Analytical is working with other laboratories to devise a uniform set of tests that can shared among states where marijuana is legal. In the meantime, Voelker warns edible producers: “Study up on what you’re supposed to be doing as though the feds were already involved, because I guarantee you that’s the direction it’s going to go.”
Oregon has taken the lead in righting some of the wrongs of the War on Weed. On Monday, The New York Times reported on Oregon’s leadership in expunging marijuana violations from citizens’ records.
Even simple pot tickets can haunt someone for the rest of his or her life, sabotaging job hiring and other milestones. So Portland’s Metropolitan Public Defender’s office is running “expungement clinics” to forever seal records of past pot crimes.
The Times interviewed a 43-year-old mother dogged by a pot ticket from her twenties. She handed a bong to a cop more than two decades ago, and it has disqualified her for jobs and she couldn’t volunteer at her kid’s school. Now, no one will see that conviction ever again.
No state has gone further than Oregon, experts say.
Anyone with any low-level felony or misdemeanor on their record that’s at least ten years old can wipe their record clean, if they have not re-offended. In 2016, more serious felony pot convictions, like growing, will be eligible for record sealing.
One new law says courts must use the standards of current law — full marijuana legalization — when considering clearing records. Citizens who were under 21 at the time of their bust are eligible for fast-track records-clearing.
The Times notes:
Clearing a record of past convictions, even in states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, remains controversial. In Colorado, prosecutors have wide latitude to oppose such applications and often do, especially in cases in which a person faced more serious felony charges, like drug manufacturing, but pleaded guilty to a lesser offense like simple possession.
California also faces the massive issue of people currently and formerly incarcerated for acts that might no longer be a crime.
For the first time in a century, certain marijuana activity is fully legal in the state under new California medical marijuana regulations. Patients don’t just have "limited immunity", new license-holders will be 100 percent legal. The catch is: felony convictions, say for distributing marijuana, disqualify potential licensees. Senate Bill 643 reads:
"The licensing authority may deny the application for licensure or renewal of a state license if any of the following conditions apply: ... The applicant or licensee has been convicted of an offense that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the application is made, ... includ[ing]...:
(A) A felony conviction for the illegal possession for sale, sale, manufacture, transportation, or cultivation of a controlled substance.
(B) A violent felony conviction, ...
(C) A serious felony conviction, ...
(D) A felony conviction involving fraud, deceit, or embezzlement."
Any adult-use legalization initiative that appears on the ballot will face controversy for either releasing people convicted of crimes that no longer exist, or keeping them in jail.
Groups like the California ACLU and the California NAACP are also working to ensure that former pot felons can get licensed in the legal industry.
VIA East Bay Express
Oregon Governor Kate Brown recently signed into law a bill that allows medical cannabis dispensaries to sell recreational cannabis to anyone 21 and older beginning October 1st. According Oregon’s official website, there are currently – as of this publication – 310 medical cannabis dispensaries approved to operate in the state.
Oregon’s website includes a directory of each of the state’s dispensaries, which can be found by clicking here. Each of these locations will be allowed to sell up to a quarter ounce of recreational cannabis to those 21 and older starting October 1st.
We recommend contacting the outlets prior to October 1st to confirm that they’ll be selling recreational cannabis before planning to purchase from them. It’s also a good idea to confirm that they’re currently open for business.
In Oregon, as of July 1st, it’s legal for those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis in public, and up to eight ounces at a private residence. The personal cultivation of up to four plants is also allowed.
VIA The Joint Blog
Oregon adults will be able to legally purchase recreational marijuana beginning Oct. 1, about a year earlier than had been expected.
Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed a law on Tuesday allowing the sale of recreational marijuana in existing medical marijuana dispensaries, starting just three months after Oregon's reformed marijuana law went into effect.
The measure "is a smart solution to a short-term logistical problem," Kristen Grainger, Brown's spokeswoman, told The Huffington Post. "Oregon’s new recreational marijuana law went into effect in July 2015, but Oregonians couldn’t lawfully buy it anywhere for another year or more. If marijuana is legal to use, it shouldn’t be illegal to buy."
The new marijuana law allows adults 21 and older to buy up to one-fourth ounce of recreational marijuana per day at medical marijuana shops. Consumers also may buy seeds and up to four non-flowering cannabis plants. The 25 percent state tax on marijuana sales won't begin until Jan. 4, so early shoppers can buy their newly legal weed tax-free for a few months.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, charged with regulating and monitoring the industry, will issue licenses to new recreational marijuana retailers later. Those shops, which will be allowed to sell up to one ounce per transaction, are likely to open before the end of 2016.
State voters in November approved Measure 91, which legalized the possession, use and sale of recreational marijuana for adults. The law took effect July 1, but sales hadn't been expected to begin until late 2016, giving state authorities time to establish a regulatory framework and issue licenses to retailers.
“I think this is a step forward," U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D) told HuffPost of the new law. "The state is doing a careful job of rolling this out in a thoughtful way, working to keep with the intent of the ballot measure.”
Blumenauer has been a vocal supporter of ending marijuana prohibition-style policies, offering several congressional bills aimed at reforming marijuana policy.
To date, four states, and the District of Columbia, have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Colorado and Washington state were the first to legalize the substance for adult use in 2012, with the first shops opening in both states in 2014. Twenty-three states, including Oregon in 1998, have legalized medical marijuana.
Despite more than half of all states forging their own way on marijuana policy, the federal government continues to ban the plant, classifying it as one of the "most dangerous" drugs alongside heroin and LSD.
Multiple recent polls have illustrated the dramatic shift in public opinion on the issue, finding record high percentages of Americans in support of legalization for recreational purposes.
In April, CBS News found 53 percent in support of legalization, the most since CBS began asking the question in 1979. That same month, Fox News found a record 51 percent in favor of legalization. In March, General Social Survey, widely regarded as the most authoritative source on public opinion research, found 52 percent in favor.
VIA Huffington Post
It may come as a shocking surprise, but even though you can’t bring your own bottled water through TSA checkpoints, you can bring your own marijuana!
Fox 12 Oregon reports that passengers traveling on flights within Oregon are now going to be permitted to bring a small amount of “personal use” marijuana with them. The new approach is being implemented after the state’s recreational marijuana law just went into effect at the beginning of this month.
Passengers flying through Portland International Airport, will be allowed to go through TSA checkpoints with marijuana from now on.
The Transportation Security Administration has always claimed that their job is to “detect threats to aviation security.”
That would seem to indicate that this should not bother the agency one bit. As long as adult marijuana users are staying under the state’s 1 ounce marijuana limit, the International Business Times reports, they will be left alone by the TSA.
The TSA agents will, however, alert airport police, who will check out whether the passenger is staying in state, or flying out of state.
If they are heading across state lines, they’ll have to ditch the pot at the checkpoint.
Traveling across state lines with the plant is still regarded as a federal offense.
Local Fox 12 interviewed passengers about the new law. Arnold Lucht said, “I don’t care if they got it in their pocket. I could care less as long as they can’t smoke it in the airport, you can’t smoke it in the airplane. So depends if wherever they’re going if it’s legal, that’s fine with me.”
Verena Douglas, who moved to Oregon from Colorado, said, “I’m not anti-marijuana, but I’m pro-hairspray. I would really like to have some hairspray or some shampoo. What’s shampoo going to do to somebody? Why can’t I take my shampoo on a plane? I think it’s a little lopsided. Silly, it’s actually silly.”
Retail marijuana sales to begin in Oregon this October 1.
Things are really beginning to change with marijuana and the law in the United States. How long do you think it will be before we #EndMarijuanaProhibition and #EndTheDrugWar entirely?
(Article by Jackson Marciana)
Oregon farmers could plant the state’s first industrial hemp crop this spring, a full year before businesses expect to start growing marijuana for recreational use, a state official said on Tuesday.
Farmers can grow the hemp in exchange for a $1,500 licensing fee and testing to confirm their crop does not possess enough intoxicating chemicals to get people high, said Agriculture Department manager Ron Pence.
But would-be growers of industrial hemp face a host of complications, including cannabis being illegal at the federal level even as prosecutors have cautiously allowed state experiments to go forward. So far, no one has applied for a license, Pence added.
“It’s not clear if there’s an adequate seed supply,” Pence said, noting that federal regulations made it virtually impossible for growers to legally import seeds into the state. Once hemp is grown, federal law also prohibits producers from selling outside Oregon.
Marijuana, used by some for its intoxicating effects, and hemp, used to make clothing, paper, biofuels, foods and cosmetics, are different varieties of the same species of Cannabis sativa plant.
Nationwide, 19 states have passed legislation to allow some measure of industrial hemp production, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Last year, Kentucky, Colorado and Vermont became the first states to report legal harvests of the product, according to the Hemp Industries Association.
Oregon’s industrial hemp law, passed by the state Legislature in 2009, is being implemented at the same time as state regulators draft rules governing the recreational use of marijuana under a ballot initiative voters passed last year.
Officials at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission said on Tuesday that individuals would be allowed to grow small amounts of recreational pot for personal use starting on July 1, with commercial sales likely beginning in late 2016.
Industrial hemp grown in the state must contain less than 0.3 percent THC, the active ingredient in pot.
Farmers have criticized the state’s fledgling industrial hemp program for banning growers from manufacturing products from hemp seeds, which are commonly used to make cosmetics and food additives.
Rules also require growers to make a three-year commitment to the program, when some are only interested in growing hemp for a year on a trial basis, Pence said, adding the state Legislature was working to address some of the concerns.
(Reporting by Courtney Sherwood; Editing by Eric M. Johnson and Peter Cooney)
VIA Raw Story
A new bill has been filed in the State of Oregon that would legalize the possession of up to 8 ounces of cannabis, as well as cultivation and sales. Senate Bill 1556, sponsored by Senator Floyd Prozanski and State Representative Peter Buckley, aims to put legalization on this November’s ballot for voters to approve or decline.
The basics are straight-forward: once the bill is put on the ballot and passed, cannabis possession for adults over 21 would become legal. The possession limit varies, depending on where you are – a person can possess up to 8 ounces within their home, and cultivate up to 4 plants. When in public places, it would be legal to possess up to an ounce (as long as it remains out of view). The measure also legalizes the sale of cannabis, but directs the legislature to develop a regulatory system after the bill has passed.
A number of measures are contending for a spot for legalization on the ballot in this year’s election, including multiple initiatives that advocates are currently gathering signatures for. This bill acts in conjunction with the other initiatives, and contains provisions to adjust the measure if it were to pass along with the other legalization proposals.
If passed, the law would go into effect January 1st, 2015.
Via The Joint Blog