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.
Study: Medical marijuana changes how employees use sick time
The Washington Post - By. Christopher Ingraham - 08/29/2016
That's the stark warning from the Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace, a nonprofit that works to combat drug use among American employees.
"The impact of employee marijuana use is seen in the workplace in lower productivity, increased workplace accidents and injuries, increased absenteeism, and lower morale," the institute writes. "This can and does seriously impact the bottom line."
Does it really, though?
New research published in the journal Health Economics suggests that the argument is overstated. Darin F. Ullman, an economist who recently received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, wanted to know what effect, if any, the enactment of medical marijuana laws has had on employee absentee rates.
A fair amount of research has been done on the aggregate impact of illicit marijuana use on workplace productivity. Generally speaking, the most recent research — gathered and summarized in this 2014 paper — indicates that most marijuana use has little effect on workplace productivity, although chronic or heavy pot use can be a problem.
On net, the evidence is mixed. "It is simply uncertain as to whether there are negative labor market consequences of drug use in general, and cannabis use in particular," the 2014 paper concludes.
But there hasn't been a lot of research into the impact of licitmarijuana use — particularly medical marijuana use — on the workplace. So Ullman decided to look into what happened to employee sick-day use in states that legalized medical marijuana, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey (CPS).
On the one hand, you might expect broader access to marijuana to result in more workers calling in sick, because they're too stoned to work or because they just don't feel like showing up on a given day. On the other hand, if medical pot is successfully treating conditions that would otherwise render somebody unable to work, you might expect sick days to decrease.
So Ullman examined before-and-after sick-day data from 24 states that had medical marijuana laws at the time of his study. On average, he found that "respondents were 8% less likely to report being absent from work due to health issues after medical marijuana laws" were passed. The CPS numbers also suggest that states with fewer restrictions on the use of medical marijuana, such as on the number of conditions it could be recommended for, had more of a decrease in sick-day use than states with stricter regulations.
Now, if you read much about this type of research, you're probably expecting a Big Important Caveat to appear here, and you're right: Ullman's study can say that sick-day use decreased after the passage of medical marijuana laws. But it can't say medical marijuana caused that decrease. There are any number of factors that could have accounted for a drop in absenteeism in the states Ullman studied — better access to health care, better workplace wellness programs, improved employee health overall, etc. The decline in absenteeism could be driven more by any of those factors than by whatever happened to the state's marijuana laws.
However, Ullman notes that the effect of the laws was stronger for middle-aged workers and for males, the groups most likely to hold medical marijuana cards. That, combined with the stronger effect of the laws in the more lax states, does suggest that the laws themselves could be a driver of the reduced absenteeism seen in the data.
Ullman notes that there are any number of plausible reasons this could be the case. If self-treating with medical marijuana lets "individuals experience relief from disabling symptoms, absence from work could decline." Beyond that, other studies have shown that alcohol consumption declines after the passage of medical marijuana laws. Heavy drinking is a big driver of absenteeism, so if medical marijuana cuts back on boozing, it would have the net effect of reducing absenteeism, as well.
"The results of this paper therefore suggest that [medical marijuana laws] would decrease costs for employers as it has reduced self-reported absence from work due to illness/medical issues," Ullman concludes.
Wild marijuana is flourishing throughout the Twin Cities
City Pages - By. Susan Du - 08/22/2016
Wild marijuana grows in yards, gardens, and weedy industrial sites across the Twin Cities. It’s illegal – the feds consider it a Schedule I controlled substance, equal to heroin – but it’s also naturally occurring.
Most of what’s out there is descended from the hemp that was planted en masse in the 1940s for fiber during World War II. When “Reefer Madness” arrived, people stopped cultivating it. Birds loved to eat the seed though, and carried it out of the fields and into the cities.
Now, wild marijuana is flourishing wherever people are turning the soil, like roadsides and highways.
City of Minneapolis spokesman Casper Hill says that although inspectors with the department of regulatory services do police yard plants that are overgrown and need to be cut, they don’t necessarily bother with the species of plants growing around homes. As long as the yard cannabis is of a sensible and aesthetically pleasing height, it’s free to live.
Hill did not say what inspectors actually do when they stumble upon it. (Probably pose for photos.)
Unfortunately, this wild marijuana doesn’t get you high, says University of Minnesota pot Prof. George Weiblen.
Weiblen grew up in Minneapolis, where as a teenager he quickly learned through the mistakes of his peers that harvesting the neighbors’ boulevards and baking up garbage bags of the stuff was not a very good business scheme.
“I wouldn’t be alone,” he says. “It’s an experiment that teenagers often indulge in … Any fool who has done the experiment quickly caught the difference.”
Minnesota’s native marijuana does produce a highly nutritious seed that’s making a comeback, Weiblen adds. The market for hemp seeds in the U.S. is estimated to be $500 million in sales a year. People are using the oil and seeds in a variety of food and makeup products.
However, he does not recommend harvesting the seeds from wild marijuana either. Call it hemp or marijuana, cannabis is still illegal.
“You gotta buy the processed product right now,” he says. “That’s the only legal path to using hemp.”
What Gambling Can Tell Us About Legalizing Marijuana
ATTN: - Keith Stroup - 08/19/16
I am old enough to remember when Nevada was the only state where gambling was legal. In 1931, during the Great Depression, the state legislature had legalized casino gambling as a way to stimulate their economy, create new jobs, and entice more people to the state.
For decades Nevada had a monopoly on casino gambling — that, along with legalizing “no fault” divorces, and later legalizing prostitution — when most states did not offer those options. These factors combined to give Nevada a reputation as a maverick state where people could visit to engage in naughty behavior without legal consequences. “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas.”
The state is expected to legalize the recreational use of marijuana via voter initiative (Question 2) this November, which will further enhance that reputation.
Other states obviously knew that legal gambling was an alternative that might provide an economic boost to their states as well, but the prevailing morality at the time was far too negative towards gambling for elected officials in other states to pursue. It was a time when the religious communities had successfully convinced most Americans that a life of virtue, not vices, was the path to happiness.
But social mores change over time, and as gambling began to be seen as a legitimate form of entertainment, instead of a moral sin, the tax revenue and economic benefits from legal gambling were more attractive. In 1977, by voter initiative, New Jersey legalized casino gambling in Atlantic City, offering an east coast version of Nevada, where gambling hedonists could legally do what they could not yet do in their own states.
And gradually the barriers banning legal gambling began to crumble nationwide, leading to a situation today in which every state has some form of legal gambling, such as state-run lotteries, albeit with strange limitations in some states (e.g., in Missouri it is illegal to gamble on land, but perfectly legal to have casinos on riverboats on the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers, although the boats never leave the shore).
Which leads to the question of why behavior thought by many to be inappropriate (or even morally offensive), can nonetheless sometimes be legalized? Or put another way, when is conduct with the tinge of sinfulness out-weighted by the potential for economic benefits to the states?
I raise that question because of the increasingly profitable side of legal marijuana in the states that have elected to regulate and tax marijuana. As the latest revenue data make clear, legalizing marijuana has been an enormous benefit for the few states that have taken that step, and that fact will be more and more difficult for neighboring states to ignore over the coming years. As we saw with gambling, once the economic benefits of legal marijuana are obvious, the moral opposition will fade and the economic arguments will prevail.
The Latest Data from Colorado and Washington.
In Colorado, the first state to get their legal retail outlets up and running on January 1, 2014, the gross sales of marijuana, and the tax revenue to the state, have continued to rise each year. For 2015, licensed marijuana stores in the state totaled an astounding $996,184,788 – just shy of $1 billion dollars, up from $669 million in sales in 2014.
Colorado collected more than $135 million in taxes and fees last year (including $35 million dedicated to school construction), up from $76 million in 2014 (when $13.3 million was raised for schools).
In Washington state, marijuana retail sales reached $322,823,639 in 2015, up from only $30,783,880 in 2014, when retail outlets were open for only a portion of the year. That 2015 sales figure has already been eclipsed in the first seven months of 2016.
The state retail tax revenue for fiscal year 2016 from recreational marijuana sales totaled $30,017,823, while state retail sales taxes from the sale of medical marijuana totaled $5,236,536. Local retail sales tax totaled $11,228,861 from recreational sales, and local retail tax totaled $2,084,323 for medical sales.
These, as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump might say, are “yugee” numbers, and they are continuing to increase each year, making them more and more difficult to ignore by other states.
Which brings me to my main point. At a time when several national polls confirm that between 55 and 61 percent of the entire country now favor full legalization, it is difficult to argue that marijuana smoking is, any longer, considered immoral behavior. Sure, there are pockets of fundamental moralists to whom anything pleasurable will always be suspect behavior, including sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. But this puritanical perspective is finding less and less support each year, and when balanced with the economic windfall that results when a state legalizes marijuana, it simply cannot prevail.
Today a majority of Americans under 65 support marijuana legalization, particularly younger adults: 71 percent of adults under 35 think marijuana use should be legal, a jump of 10 points since last year. The demographics are clear and unstoppable, as younger voters replace those over 65.
Just as all states now have some form of legal gambling, within a few short years, all states will offer some form of legal marijuana. It’s the smart thing to do; it’s the right thing to do; and it’s inevitable in a democracy, when most people want it.
Keith Stroup is a Washington, D.C. public-interest attorney who founded NORML in 1970.
San Francisco Now Has a Cannabis Country Club
Travel + Leisure - By. Cailey Rizzo - 08/20/2016
If a drug den isn’t your preferred venue for toking, elevate your marijuana experience at San Francisco’s very first private cannabis club.
Harvest, a San Francisco dispensary, announced the opening of its members-only club last week. Already, the lounge is being compared to a cannabis country club for its steep fees, exclusive membership, and tasteful decor—brown leather couches, oriental rugs, and glass ashtrays (duh).
While anyone can buy pot from the dispensary, only members can get access to the smoking room in back. Other perks of membership include a locker for storing goods, invites to educational events and, of course, the ability to puff, puff, pass with the city’s other well-heeled pot aficionados.
Those who aspire to membership have to go through an application process and, if accepted, “pay monthly fees comparable to the cost of an Equinox gym membership,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. (An Equinox memberships runs about $200 per month, for those wondering.)
Thousands of people are in Harvest’s collective (basically a list of people who have registered to buy pot from the dispensary), but founders envision the private club only having a couple hundred members. Applicants have to pass a criminal background check and be personally approved by Harvest’s founders.
Although Harvest isn’t the first dispensary to allow use of their product in the back, it’s the only dispensary in California that charges membership fees to do so. There are a few private club options for the discerning stoner (with cash to throw around) in Denver, however they’re not exactly legal and are occasionally raided by the police.
Medical marijuana dispensary manager shoots armed robbers clad in masks, body armor
By Leo Stallworth and ABC7.com staff
Wednesday, June 08, 2016
WALNUT PARK, Calif. (KABC) --
The manager of a medical marijuana dispensary in Walnut Park opened fire on two armed men after he said the suspects tried to rob him.
The incident occurred at around 10:40 p.m. Tuesday in the 2400 block of Florence Avenue, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
The store manager told Eyewitness News that the suspects barged into his business clad in body armor and with their faces covered, pointing assault rifles at him.
The manager said he had no other choice but to grab his handgun and shoot at the suspects, firing at least 10 shots in self-defense.
Jasmine Chavez, who lives just behind the business, said when she came out of her home a short time after the shooting, she saw the suspects being wheeled into an ambulance.
She then talked to the manager of the business.
"His reaction was wow, like lucky to be alive," Chavez described. "He's like, I had to do what I had to do to save my life and his employee there as well."
Local resident Hector Martinez, who has worked at a marijuana dispensary as a security guard, says the owners of such businesses usually have security guards around all the time.
"A lot of money is kept inside, and that's why they always hire guards and actually have to escort people with that amount of money out so they won't get robbed," Martinez said.
Authorities said both suspects were taken to the hospital to be treated for gunshot wounds, though their exact conditions were not immediately released.
The investigation was ongoing.
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.”
DEA and police raid Westford family home in marijuana oil bust, arrest six
Boston.com By Nik DeCosta-Klipa
Four Westford family members, along with two family friends, were arrested Wednesday on a litany of drug charges after federal and local law enforcement raided their 3,855-square-foot home in a marijuana oil lab bust.
According to the Middlesex District Attorney’s office, Westford police and a Drug Enforcement Administration drug lab team arrived at the Mountain View Lane home at 8 a.m. to execute a search warrant.
Upon arrival, officials said they found a large basement lab manufacturing butane honey oil, a yellow honey-like substance which contains a more potent level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
The process, in which butane liquid is put through marijuana buds, to create the yellow honey-like drug, also known as hash oil or dabs, can potentially cause hazardous or fatal explosions, according to the New England DEA head Michael J. Ferguson.
Husband and wife Bradley Heath Sr., 63, and Diane Heath, 61, as well as their son Bradley Heath II, 22, and daughter Linley Heath, 28, were charged with possession with intent to distribute and the manufacturing of a Class C substance, as well as conspiracy to violate drug laws.
The Heath son, who allegedly sold the drug under the name “Gold Street Extracts,” was also charged with distribution of a Class C substance, possession with intent to distribute a Class D substance, possession of a Class B substance, and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, according to officials.
Ayer District Court Judge Michael Brooks set Bradley Heath II’s bail at $30,000 cash on this case and detained him without bail on a probation violation from a previous case. Bail for the other three Heath family members was set at $500.
Westford resident Lyndsey Holston, 20, who police said is Bradley Heath II’s girlfriend, was also arrested in the case for manufacturing, distrbuting, and possessing with intent to distribute a Class C substance, as well as a conspiracy charge. Her bail was set at $1,000.
Twenty-two-year-old Groton resident Prachi Joglekar, a friend of Linley Heath, was also arrested for possessing with intent to distribute and manufacturing a Class C substance, as well as conspiracy charge. Joglekar’s bail was set at $500.
The defendants pleaded not guilty Wednesday. All six due back in court June 27.
“Their alleged lab operations compromised the safety and security of their neighbors, as well as the law enforcement officials who arrested the suspects today,” Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a statement.