New York City Cannabis Arrests Nosedive 97%

New York City Cannabis Arrests Nosedive 97%

New York City Cannabis Arrests Nosedive 97% was posted on Leafly.

Editor’s Note: Hurray for The Big Apple! This is how it should be. Reform is starting to manifest. Let’s see this movement happen across the country!

Just 151 unlucky souls got arrested for low-level marijuana possession in the city of New York this September—as cannabis law reforms begin to take hold in Gotham.

Earlier today, the group Drug Policy Alliance released new crime statistics from New York City, where marijuana arrests peaked in 2010. More than 4,300 people got popped for pot in the Big Apple in September 2010. By comparison, September 2018 numbers are down 97%, thanks to activist and City Council pressure, which led to new police department policy beginning in May.

As a result, cannabis arrests collapsed this fall. In the first few months of 2018, about 1,300 people per month got arrested for cannabis in New York. After the New York Police Department announced a new action plan in May, arrests dropped to around 500 per month. New guidelines instruct police to not arrest a person for simple possession of marijuana, but rather give them a summons. The guidelines took effect in September, leading to a record low 151 arrests.

Prosecutors in New York City have also stopped prosecuting small-time cannabis cases.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s marijuana caseload is down from 349 cases in January 2018 to fewer than a dozen in September.

In Manhattan, marijuana arraignments dropped 94% year over year for the month of October. Last month saw just 28 cases.

Critics of cannabis criminalization have long-noted that young people of color bear a disproportionate burden of enforcement, relative to their cannabis use. And even with the advance of decriminalization, people of color still have adjudication rates higher than whites, despite similar usage levels.

In September, Manhattan’s D.A. dismissed most open marijuana cases pending in the borough. Of the 3,042 dismissed bench warrants for smoking and possession, 79% were New Yorkers of color, almost half under 25.

“We need to continue to push the remaining NYC D.A.s and prosecutors across the state to take similar action, and keep fighting for the administrative changes needed to deal with the other collateral consequences people face from marijuana arrests,” Drug Policy Alliance deputy state director Melissa Moore said in a release.

Full legalization polls at 60% in New York, but the state lacks a referendum option voters have used to legalize cannabis in nine US states.

Original Post: Leafly: New York City Cannabis Arrests Nosedive 97%

Willie Nelson to Appear at This Year’s Emerald Cup

Willie Nelson to Appear at This Year’s Emerald Cup

Willie Nelson to Appear at This Year’s Emerald Cup was posted on Leafly.

Editor’s Note: This year’s Emerald Cup will be the place to be. The Emerald Cup will honor Willie Nelson, singer and cannabis activist, by renaming its annual award the Willie Nelson Award.

Outlaw country legend Willie Nelson will join his outlaw farmer brethren in California’s famed Wine Country this December for one heck of a hootenanny.

This morning promoters for the world’s largest outdoor organic cannabis competition, The Emerald Cup, announced that the grammy-winning superstar marijuana lover will receive a lifetime achievement award and play a few songs at the event on Dec. 15 in Santa Rosa, CA.

A Rare Winter Appearance

It’s a real coup for the 15 year-old Emerald Cup, which has grown from a backwoods gathering of clandestine pot growers into the globe’s county fair of cannabis. Over 20,000 people are expected to attend the two-day event an hour’s drive north of San Francisco.

“We’re finally going to get Willie there. It’’ll be a magical moment, given Willie’s age and how much we’ve always wanted him there.”

Tim Blake, founder & producer, The Emerald Cup

Emerald Cup organizer spokesperson and founder Tim Blake said he’s asked Willie to appear for five years. Nelson usually doesn’t perform in December, but he agreed to one gig in the Bay Area that weekend, and added the Emerald Cup to his schedule.

“He’s going to fly up. Take the award. Play a couple songs. And then he’s going to fly back and do his show,” Blake said. “We’re finally going to get Willie there. It’ll be a magical moment given Willie’s age and how much we’ve always wanted him.”

Dec. 16 in Santa Rosa

The 15th annual cannabis celebration’s Willie Nelson ceremony will take place on Dec. 16 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, Calif. The 2018 Emerald Cup will mark Nelson’s first-ever appearance at a large-scale cannabis event.

The Emerald Cup will also honor the singer and cannabis activist by renaming its annual award the Willie Nelson Award.

Nelson is an American icon and national treasure with a six-decade-long career that includes best-selling albums, books, and the annual Farm Aid benefit concert. He’s also a fifth-degree black belt in Gong Kwon Yu Sul.

Lifelong Rebel and Cannabis Enthusiast

Nelson grew up in Texas, and the singer, songwriter, author, poet, and actor was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2015, the Library of Congress gave him the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song —the first-ever country artist to receive the award.

“We have a great deal of respect and admiration for Willie, who is graciously allowing the Cup to honor future individuals with an award that will remain in his name,” Blake said. “An unwavering ability to stand true in his beliefs and refusal to accept society’s rigid set of rules are only part of what makes Willie the perfect individual to be recognized as a hero to the cannabis world.”

The Emerald Cup may be the most influential cannabis event in the world. It features a massive cannabis flower, extract and seed fair, a judged cannabis contest, as well as headlining musical acts, industry presentations, artists and educators.

The Emerald Cup takes place Dec. 15 and 16. Tickets are available on the Emerald Cup website and Eventbrite. Weekend passes start at $120.

Original Post: Leafly: Willie Nelson to Appear at This Year’s Emerald Cup

At Harvest Time, Farmers Survey a Changed Emerald Triangle

At Harvest Time, Farmers Survey a Changed Emerald Triangle

At Harvest Time, Farmers Survey a Changed Emerald Triangle was posted on Leafly.

Ed. Note: The Green Triangle, including Humboldt County is having growing pains into the legal market. This is to be expected, but there are complications. 

Price Hits Rock Bottom

The end of cannabis prohibition promised extreme turbulence for the communities that profited from the old system. That turbulence has finally arrived.

Americans consume an estimated 6,000 metric tons of the crop across legal and illegal markets each year, most of it from Mexico. But California remains the nation’s number one domestic producer, and the Triangle is number one in California—good for an output of 1.7 million pounds per year.

Eighty years of cannabis prohibition warped the economy in the tri-county region. Natural market prices were inflated tenfold. Prohibition drove a need for secrecy that kept farms small and pushed cultivation into wildlands too remote to raid.

Prohibition prices peaked at more than $5,000 per pound in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Market normalization—prices are now in the $500-$1,500-per-pound range—can feel like economic calamity.

Today, nine states and Washington, DC, have legalized the adult use of cannabis. More than 30 states allow the legal use of medical marijuana. As prohibition’s risk recedes, so do the costs of growing legal cannabis.

Swami Select Farms (David Downs/Leafly)

Regulations Pile On

The wholesale price of cannabis has been sliding for years. What made this year different was the mountain of red tape and a decision point for every farmer: Go legal, burrow further underground, or get out of the business entirely.

The permit process never seemed to end.

Stephen Dillon, founder, True Humboldt

Farmers didn’t farm this year—they spent their days doing paperwork, said Stephen Dillon, founder of True Humboldt, in Humboldt County. Dillon went through the legalization process, and he’s dealt with Humboldt County, the state Bureau of Cannabis Control, Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Water Board, OSHA, unions, ADA compliance, workers’ comp, and so on, he told Leafly.

“The permit process never seemed to end,” he said. “It’s been harder than writing a thesis paper to finish college.”

“We went from zero regulations to something that’s federally illegal and being tightly regulated,” said Mark Shaffer, owner of Shelby Ridge Farms in Comptche, CA.

“I’m not surprised we’re getting hit over the head with this,” he said. As a former environmental consult for laundromat companies, Shaffer said, he had a bit of an experience edge. “That’s part of the advantage I have right now—I know how to fill out government paperwork. This is how bureaucracies come at you.”

By some estimates, three quarters of California growers who started filling out state and local applications might not have finished them this year. Just a third of the growers on Dillon’s road are active.

“I know for a fact people are just totally overwhelmed,” Dillon said. “We’re seeing a lot of people not make it, and that’s really sad.”

Local officials now use satellite data to track compliance in the backwoods. Humboldt County capped farm canopy size at 2015 levels, and sent out 600 to 800 abatement letters this year to suspected violators. Penalties can include fines of $10,000 per day.

Find Legal Cannabis Near You With Leafly Finder

Sunscreen of Green: Elongated cannabis flower beds stretch more than 200 feet. (Courtesy Shelby Ridge Farms)

Production Might Have Peaked

After years of doubling crop sizes and doubling again as prices tumbled, farm sizes seemed to have peaked across the Triangle. There’s too little profit to keep going.

In Northern Humboldt, “I know people who know PG&E helicopter pilots flying the county all summer,” Dillon said. “They’re seeing about 30-40% of farms out there not planted this year.”

In Mendocino, Shaffer estimated that 20% of farmers got wiped out by last year’s crop prices and lack the capital to keep going.

“I think definitely a lot of people scaled back this year,” Johnson reported from the heart of the Triangle.

“We probably have started to peak and will drop back,” said Kemp, from Southern Humboldt.

RELATED STORY

How the Emerald Triangle Became America’s Cannabis Epicenter

Questions About Adequate Legal Supply

There seems to be plenty of cannabis sloshing around America. Californians can grow six plants per property—yielding perhaps a six-year supply for one person.

The most common price for pot is already free, RAND researchers found in the book Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know. Most transactions are gifts.

As for the legal recreational market in California, no one knows if there is enough supply for a fully mature market. There are few fully permitted farms in California, but there are only 350 or so licensed retailers as well. Much of the California-grown crop that remains in state remains in the illicit market.

A limited supply of licensed pot may prove adequate for the few stores this year.

It’s hard to know exactly what’s happening. “I’ve heard there’s a glut and I’ve heard there’s a shortage,” said Johnson.

“I do think the supply this year is going to be semi-restricted, and not as big as people think,” Dillon said.

“I don’t think that we’re going to know,” said Christina DePaci, an official with The Weed Brand in Salinas Valley, California.

One early signal: the price for clean trim—leafy plant leftovers used to make oil for infused edibles—are way up. Bidding wars broke out on Humboldt County radio this summer for trim—up from $25 a pound on the illicit market to $250 a pound today, Dillon said.

“We have a line out the door for trim,” said DePaci.

RELATED STORY

How California Cannabis Growing Laws Will Impact the Emerald Triangle

Shimmers of Hope Everywhere

Even with some declaring the Emerald Triangle a Grapes of Wrath 2.0, hope continues to shine through. A supply chain has reconstituted itself on the legal side. Reports of fair prices buoy spirits. Local regulators began listening to farmers, and revising fees and rules.

The Triangle sits at crossroads. Cannabis could become a commodity like corn in Iowa, or it could provide the basis for a global brand like Champagne from the Champagne region of France.

RELATED STORY

The Emerald Triangle Is Poised to Become the Napa Valley of Cannabis

Local bud has character—with more a diverse look, aroma, and effect. They call it “terroir,” borrowing language from wine.

“There is a possibility we are going to survive this,” said Kemp. “I feel a tinge of awkward hope.”

She thinks “the consumer is going to be very excited by the flavors and smells of this season.”

Market collapse has “happened to small farmers many times in the past and all over the world,” said Johnson. “We shouldn’t feel alone in this fight. We can have a positive reaction to it, rather than just suffering our fate.”

“We still see through to the other side—this bright future,” Dillon said. “It’s a matter of getting through this turbulent time, but we feel good about it.”

Photos courtesy of Shelby Ridge Farms and Seed707 Farms.

How did your 2018 harvest go? Let us know in the comments!

Original Post: Leafly: At Harvest Time, Farmers Survey a Changed Emerald Triangle

Teen Cannabis Use Plummets Amid California Legalization

Teen Cannabis Use Plummets Amid California Legalization

Teen Cannabis Use Plummets Amid California Legalization was posted on Leafly.

Ed. Note: On one level this is a no brainer. If cannabis is generally available and naturally around, it’s not such a big deal. But to some people, it’s counterintuitive that high schoolers would consume less than previously. “Why, it’s a gateway drug!” “All kids want is cheap thrills.” So why has the rate dropped in spite of what all the doomsayers and people like Kevin Sabet are saying. Admittedly, there needs to be many public health studies about the overall effect of legal cannabis on society. And yes, there are going to be people who will become addicted. Heck, people are addicted to chewing gum. So far the results are better than expected. 

Cannabis use reported by high schoolers in California dropped significantly amid the legalization and regulation of the botanical drug for adults ages 21 and older.

Data from the large, independent California Healthy Kids Survey released this week indicate:

  • Seventh grade pot use dropped 47% from 2013 to 2017. (Californians legalized cannabis in 2016.)
  • Among 9th graders, reported cannabis use dropped 25% during the study period.
  • Among 11th graders, reported cannabis use dropped 16% during the study period.
  • The percentage of teens reporting using cannabis multiple times and/or repeatedly within the past 30 days declined for all age groups.

“The declines in substance use are striking.”

California Health Kids Survey Report, 2017

“The declines in substance use are striking. Almost all major indicators of alcohol and marijuana use, overall prevalence as well as frequent or heavy use, are down by 3 or more points,” researchers concluded.

Funding for the survey of teens is nonpartisan. It comes from taxes spent by the California Department of Health Care Services in collaboration with the California Department of Education. This survey of 45,264 students came from the 2015–17 administration of the CHKS to a randomly selected representative sample of California 7th, 9th, and 11th graders. It’s the 16th biennial statewide student survey, which began in 1985 and became mandated by the California Legislature in 1991. Here is a link to the CHKS 2015-2017 results.

Declining Trend Amid Rise of Legalization

California has had legal medical cannabis since 1996 and dispensaries for adults 18 and older since the early 2000s. Yet “marijuana use has been declining among students,” researchers reported.

Legalization critics note that the study period does not cover more recent developments. Retail adult use cannabis began after the CHKS study period ended. There are drugged driving and long-term health dangers, anti-cannabis groups like Project SAM warn.

“How the recent legalization of marijuana use for adults in California effects [sic] the declining trend among youth warrants attention,” the survey report concluded. “The next biennial survey will be of particular interest to shed light on whether the change in state marijuana laws affect these findings.”

RELATED STORY

Federal Gov’t: Teen Cannabis Use Rate Drops to 20-Year Low

Researchers could not say why fewer teens report using cannabis.

“Current results suggest that two factors may help to explain these declines: (1) increases in parental, peer, and, to a lesser extent, personal disapproval; and (2) declines in the percentage of students reporting it was very easy to get alcohol and marijuana.”

Legalization supporters said the survey result mirror data from other legalization states, which all share a age limit of 21 and strong anti-youth smoking campaigns. California legalization Proposition 64 earmarks millions of dollars each year in cannabis excise and sales taxes for anti-marijuana ads aimed at youth.

RELATED STORY

Washington Sees Declines in Teen Use, Treatment Admissions Since Legalization

“These initial reports confirm that legalizing and regulating cannabis doesn’t increase youth marijuana use, but rather it has the opposite effect,” said Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML. “The fact that the biggest drop in reported use came from younger age groups is a particularly encouraging indicator of the success of regulation.”

Cannabis arrests are a primary entry point for the school-to-prison pipeline, activists note. Cannabis laws are enforced disproportionately on black people and other people of color, as compared to caucasians, ACLU studies have concluded.

“It’s time to stop trying to ‘send a message’ to young people about drugs and instead implement sound, science-based policies that best protect our children and public safety, along with our privacy and human rights,” concluded Komp.

RELATED STORY

I’m a Cannabis-Using Mom. How Should I Talk to My Kids About Legalization?

Original Post: Leafly: Teen Cannabis Use Plummets Amid California Legalization

Raging California Carr Fire Reaches Designer Cannabis Maker Alien Labs

Raging California Carr Fire Reaches Designer Cannabis Maker Alien Labs

Raging California Carr Fire Reaches Designer Cannabis Maker Alien Labs was posted on Leafly.

It’s been a bad week for top-shelf herb in California.

First the “Terp Town” fire of Greenfield, CA, burned five greenhouses at the property of award-winning grower and extract manufacturer Loudpack in Monterey County. Now, award-winning growers Alien Labs are facing their own setbacks in the eastern part of the state.

The raging Carr Fire, which began Monday, exploded Thursday to claim 44,000 acres, 65 structures, and kill two firefighters, according to news reports. Among those structures are several homes affiliated with the leading cannabis growers in the state.

“We have family members personally affected by this fire and a couple of our spots are just about to burn down. (One of our best) countless families have lost their homes,” Alien Labs stated on Instagram Friday morning. The company has set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of $25,000. “Our home is on fire! We might be transplants to Sacramento but Redding is our home and Redding is being absolutely devastated right now by the Carr Fire.”

The Carr Fire reportedly started by a driver towing a vehicle with a dangling chain. Fanned by high, hot, westerly winds, the fire exploded in dry timber and jumped the Sacramento River Thursday, triggering evacuations west of Redding, a city of 90,000 people two hours north of the state capitol of Sacramento. Human-driven climate change is thought to be intensifying droughts and fire seasons in the western US.

California’s fire season is off to a blistering start, mirroring November 2017 blazes which torched key cannabis-growing regions north of San Francisco.

Alien Labs took first place in the 2018 Central Valley Cannabis Cup with Melonade. They also took first place in extracts in the 2018 SoCal Cannabis Cup with Lemon Fuel by Critical Concentrates and Alien Labs.

RELATED STORY

California Has Set the Cannabis Curve—Again

Original Post: Leafly: Raging California Carr Fire Reaches Designer Cannabis Maker Alien Labs