LOCAL CALIFORNIA

The Rolling Paper

Cannabis, pot, weed, reefer, marijuana -- whatever you call it, if it's mentioned in the pages of the Los Angeles Times and its sister papers, we've added it to our rolling collection of cannabis-related content.

Cheech Marin is cool with pot and America's 'middle,' but don't get him started on Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions

It’s raining across the Pacific Palisades and Cheech Marin is riffing on wine connoisseurs, gangsters, Kim Jong Un’s bottle-cap haircut, the Ku Klux Klan and the man he calls “Mr. Peanut,” better known as Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, who has been an annoyance to the comedian’s happy, chilled quest to smoke dope without fear of federal agents storming in.

Marin, in truth, is not too worried about that prospect. Marijuana is legal in California, and much of the country backs its recreational use. But the federal government classifies it as a criminal narcotic, and Sessions has threatened a crackdown on growers and dispensers. Marin has been bitter toward Republican attorneys general since 2003, when his longtime partner Tommy Chong was sentenced to jail for selling bongs over the internet.

Former U.S. Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft “sent him to prison for nine months,” Marin said. “Tommy was the smallest seller, but he was the No. 1 face, and they needed a face for their campaign.”

BusinessState government

State panel to examine taxes on California's newly licensed marijuana industry

A customer test-sniffs the cannabis at the MedMen dispensary in West Hollywood this month. (Eugene Garcia /EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock)
A customer test-sniffs the cannabis at the MedMen dispensary in West Hollywood this month. (Eugene Garcia /EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock)

A citizens panel that is helping to set rules for the marijuana industry in California has agreed to examine the impact of taxes that some growers and sellers have complained are too high.

The state Cannabis Advisory Committee, after lengthy debate, also decided Thursday to create a subcommittee to look into how legalized marijuana affects public health and young people.

Three weeks after the state began permitting medical and recreational marijuana firms, some 710 licenses have been issued by the state Bureau of Cannabis Control for distribution and sale, and 2,036 other applications are pending.

Maywood officials celebrate revenue potential as recreational pot shop opens

Outside of Maywood’s first recreational marijuana dispensary, people stood in a long line that snaked along the building and into a parking lot, where it found the perfect prescription for a raging case of the munchies.

Free tacos.

The taco truck was just part of the fanfare to celebrate the opening Tuesday of Cookies Los Angeles — and the dawn of legal recreational pot use in the small city in southeast L.A. County.

Mondrian shooter was angry WeHo hotel made him get rid of his marijuana, authorities say

A gunman fired several rounds outside the upscale Mondrian hotel in West Hollywood on Tuesday evening in a fit of rage after the hotel staff made him get rid of his marijuana, authorities said.

The man was told to leave the hotel after the dispute. As he was leaving, he shot four or five rounds into the air, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Charles Duncan. No one was hit.

The man, in his 30s, then got into a silver hatchback waiting at the curb, with a woman behind the wheel. The car was last seen heading east on Fountain Avenue.

State attorneys general want Congress to give banks the go-ahead to work with marijuana companies

California’s top law enforcement official and his counterparts in 18 states and territories say Congress must act to end the banking industry’s prohibition on serving the marijuana industry, calling the current state of affairs a public safety threat and a hindrance for law enforcement.

In a letter sent Tuesday to leaders of the House and Senate, California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra and other state attorneys general urged Congress to pass legislation that would provide legal protection for banks that accept deposits from state-licensed cannabis businesses.

Most banks, even in states where the drug is legal, won’t offer accounts to marijuana-related businesses for fear of running afoul of federal regulators or law enforcement officials. That leaves the fast-growing marijuana industry largely reliant on cash.

California cannabis sellers want respect: Less 'Cheech and Chong' more three-piece suits

He was dressed in a three-piece suit. So Chris Coggan nearly went unnoticed when he dropped by a San Diego City Council member’s office last year to do some lobbying on marijuana laws.

“An aide came to reception and asked, ‘Where’s the pot guy?’” said Coggan, co-founder of Therapy Tonics and Provisions, a La Jolla cannabis drink company.

“He seemed to be looking for someone in a tie-dyed shirt with a joint stuck behind his ear.”

VA clears the air on talking to patients about marijuana use

“Don't ask, don't tell" is how many veterans have approached healthcare conversations about marijuana use with the doctors they see from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Worried that owning up to using the drug could jeopardize their VA benefits, even if they're participating in a medical marijuana program approved by their state, veterans have often kept mum. That may be changing under a new directive from the Veterans Health Administration urging vets and their physicians to open up on the subject.

The new guidance directs VA clinical staff and pharmacists to discuss with veterans how their use of medical marijuana could interact with other medications or aspects of their care, including treatment for pain management or post-traumatic stress disorder.

The directive leaves in place a key prohibition: VA providers are still not permitted to refer veterans to state-approved medical marijuana programs, since the drug is illegal under federal law, with no accepted medical use.

Study: Legal marijuana could generate more than $132 billion in federal tax revenue and 1 million jobs

Legalizing marijuana nationwide would create at least $132 billion in tax revenue and more than a million new jobs across the United States in the next decade, according to a new study.

New Frontier Data, a data analytics firm focused on the cannabis industry, forecasts that if legalized on the federal level, the marijuana industry could create an entirely new tax revenue stream for the government, generating millions of dollars in sales tax and payroll deductions.

"When there are budget deficits and the like, everybody wants to know where is there an additional revenue stream, and one of the most logical places is to go after cannabis and cannabis taxes," said Beau Whitney, a senior economist at New Frontier Data.

State government

Long Beach and San Leandro mayors join others to challenge Trump administration on marijuana enforcement

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia joined other mayors in challenging federal marijuana policy. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia joined other mayors in challenging federal marijuana policy. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

The mayors of 10 cities including Seattle, Long Beach and San Leandro have signed a letter urging U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to reconsider his decision to roll back a federal policy that gave low priority to prosecution of marijuana offenses in states that legalized the use of the drug.

“Reversing course now is a misguided legal overreach and an attack on cities where legal, safe, and high regulated recreational sale and use occurs, and on the majority of states where the voters have made their voices heard loud and clear on this issue,” the letter said.

Instead, the federal government should focus on combating the opioid epidemic, according to the letter by mayors including Jenny A. Durkan of Seattle; Michael B. Hancock of Denver; Bill de Blasio of New York; Jim Kenney of Philadelphia; Ted Wheeler of Portland, Ore.; Robert Garcia of Long Beach; and Pauline Cutter of San Leandro.

Rat poison from marijuana farms is harming federally threatened northern spotted owls, study finds

The northern spotted owl has had many adversaries.

Three decades ago it was loggers, whose forays into the remote forests of the Pacific Northwest threatened the shy creatures, which have zero tolerance for the clatter of development.

Then it was the more aggressive and adaptable barred owls, which began moving into protected northern spotted owl habitats, forcing the federally threatened species to colonize less productive foraging grounds elsewhere.

In Vermont, lawmakers lead the way on legalizing recreational pot

A total of eight states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. That left-leaning Vermont is poised to join them is hardly a surprise.

But unlike the other states, which all legalized pot through ballot measures, Vermont lawmakers are taking the lead.

On Wednesday, the state Legislature became the first in the United States to approve a bill legalizing recreational marijuana. Republican Gov. Phil Scott has indicated he will soon sign the measure into law.

In Vermont, lawmakers lead the way on legalizing recreational pot

James MacWilliams prunes a marijuana plant that he is growing indoors in Portland, Maine. (Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press)
James MacWilliams prunes a marijuana plant that he is growing indoors in Portland, Maine. (Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press)

Eight states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. That left-leaning Vermont is poised to join them is hardly a surprise.

But unlike the other states, which all legalized pot through ballot measures, Vermont lawmakers are taking the lead.

On Wednesday, the state Legislature became the first in the United States to approve a bill legalizing recreational marijuana. Republican Gov. Phil Scott has indicated he will soon sign the measure into law.

[Note: This is an updated version of the story posted to The Rolling Paper blog earlier Wednesday morning.] 

Business

California could see a $643-million marijuana tax haul in first full year of legalization, Gov. Jerry Brown says

Jerry Brown (Associated Press)
Jerry Brown (Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown estimated Wednesday that the state will receive $643 million from excise taxes on marijuana during the first full year of legalization in California, much more than the cost to the state of issuing licenses and enforcing new rules.

Brown’s estimates are contained in the budget he proposed for the fiscal year beginning July 1, and fall short of some past state projections that legalized cannabis could eventually bring $1 billion annually to the state’s coffers. This year, with only six months of taxing, the budget estimates $175 million in pot taxes.

“The amount and timing of revenues generated from the new taxes are uncertain and will depend on various factors including local regulations, and cannabis price and consumption changes in a legal environment,” Brown’s budget says.

Planning to try pot for the first time now that its recreational use is legal in California? Let us know

California kicked off recreational sales on New Year's Day, becoming the largest state in the nation with legal cannabis for adults. (Richard Vogel / Associated Press)
California kicked off recreational sales on New Year's Day, becoming the largest state in the nation with legal cannabis for adults. (Richard Vogel / Associated Press)

California’s historic law permitting the retail sale of recreational marijuana took effect New Year’s Day. Voters chose in 2016 to legalize recreational pot — creating the largest such legal market in the country. Now, we want to hear from you. We’re looking to speak to marijuana novices. Do you plan on smoking marijuana – or buying edibles – for the first time now that it's legal for adult recreational use?

Send an email to sarah.parvini@latimes.com or respond via the online form at the link below.

Stoner and non-stoner Californians can unite in resisting Jeff Sessions

Keyboard confessional: I’ve never smoked marijuana in my life. I don’t care for kush. I hate its smell. Edibles scare me. I can’t tell the difference between THC and TBS. The one time pals offered me a joint, I declined and drank Cactus Cooler instead.

But I support the right for any adult to light up. I voted to legalize marijuana in California, as the majority of residents did, because the drug war is a disaster that destroys too many lives and wastes billions of dollars. Legalizing is great for our image as Progressive Paradise, and my only regret is that we let Colorado do it first. You know what Colorado also beat us on? Craft beer. Let us never lose again to a state with the weirdest airport in the world.

Recreational dispensaries finally opened last week, which provoked the wrath of U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions. “Good people don't smoke marijuana,” he once said. I wish he’d repeat that in front of my butcher friend, who survived Stage 4 colon cancer and regained his appetite with the help of some fat blunts.

Business

Ex-Sacramento Kings player Brad Miller's new game is marijuana

At 7 feet tall, Brad Miller's adult life has been spent towering above most other. Now he's working on a different way to get high.

The former Sacramento Kings center's new company, CHC California City, broke ground Friday on its cannabis manufacturing facility in eastern Kern County.

The plant will put out 38 different cannabis products including edibles, water-soluble THC and vaporizer cartridges under the name Mountain Chief Products, California City Chamber of Commerce announced in a news release. Miller is the principal in CHC California City but will leave day-to-day operational oversight to deputy Ricky Mauch.

Crime

California lawmaker wants to make it easier to clear marijuana convictions from criminal records

Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) has proposed a way to expedite the clearing of records of marijuana convictions. (Alexis Cuarezma / For The Times)
Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) has proposed a way to expedite the clearing of records of marijuana convictions. (Alexis Cuarezma / For The Times)

Proposition 64, approved by California voters in 2016 to legalize recreational pot use, allows people to petition the courts to have past convictions for marijuana offenses expunged from their records. But the process can be difficult and expensive, according to supporters of pot legalization.

In response, Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) on Tuesday proposed legislation that would make it easier to have criminal convictions removed from the records of marijuana users, potentially opening more doors to employment and housing.

Rather than require people to petition the courts for a determination, Assembly Bill 1793 would require criminal convictions for marijuana-related offenses to be automatically expunged, placing the burden on the courts, Bonta said.

Business

High or Dry? California legal pot to test supply pipeline

Most Californians with an urge to smoke a joint will enter the state's legal marijuana marketplace through a single doorway — at a retail shop.

But out of view of those day-to-day sales, the state is ushering in a sprawling, untested system to move pot from place to place that will also serve as a collection point for taxes, a gateway for testing and a packaging center for the plant's fragrant buds.

The so-called marijuana distributor is a kind of skeleton connecting the state's emerging industry of growers, sellers and manufacturers. It's envisioned as a vast back office where the grunt work of keeping track of cannabis and getting it from farms to store shelves will take place.

Vermont, New Jersey, Michigan? Here are some of the states looking to legalize marijuana in 2018

A number of states will weigh efforts to legalize marijuana in 2018 through ballot initiatives and state legislatures. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)
A number of states will weigh efforts to legalize marijuana in 2018 through ballot initiatives and state legislatures. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)

The marijuana movement is charging ahead.

To date eight states — California, Colorado and Nevada to name a few — have legalized weed for recreational use since 2012. And the trend continues.

This year, several states all across the country are looking to legalize and, in turn, rake in millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Even with the Trump administration’s announcement last week that it would scrap an Obama-era policy offering legal shelter for state-sanctioned marijuana sales, organizers and lawmakers are forging forward with legalization efforts.

Here are some of those states:

Vermont

This month the state is poised to make history, becoming the first to legalize marijuana through a legislative measure and not a state-approved ballot initiative.

Overrated/Underrated: Snoop Dogg's 'Munchie Meals' are coming

UNDERRATED

Michael Stuhlbarg in ‘Call Me by Your Name’: How is a presumptive Oscar contender underrated? It’s no secret that what Hollywood deems significant seldom carries much weight across the bulk of the country, which is a shame for a movie playing in relatively few theaters. And while the film’s romance between Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet also deserves its many accolades, Stulhbarg’s portrayal of Chalamet’s father may be most deserving of a wider audience, particularly with consoling words to his son that arrive with such beauty and breathtaking care that Frank Ocean called him his “new dad.”

Intakt Records: Having recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, this small but determined Swiss record label is coming off a landmark year of inventive jazz and improvised music that from top to bottom has featured boundary-pushing artists. In addition to some terrific 2017 releases by a trio led by saxophonist Chris Speed, a duo of saxophonist David Murray with pianist Aki Takase and a knotty group called Borderlands Trio that features pianist Kris Davis, the label has functioned as an eclectic barometer of new, free directions in music on these shores and theirs — no passport required.

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