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States are enticing minorities into the cannabis industry, here’s how

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In this photo taken Thursday, May 11, 2017, Andre Shavers, who runs a marijuana delivery business, poses in Oakland, Calif. Shavers was sentenced to five years on felony probation after authorities burst into the house where he was living in one of Oakland’s most heavily policed neighborhoods and found a quarter ounce of marijuana. Oakland and other cities and states with legal pot are trying to make up for the toll marijuana enforcement took on minorities by giving them a better shot at joining the growing marijuana industry. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Some states that have legalized marijuana are encouraging minorities to enter the growing cannabis industry after years of drug enforcement that had a disproportionate effect on black and Hispanic communities. A look at some of the efforts nationwide:

CALIFORNIA

California voters legalized recreational marijuana in November. The first retail sales are expected in January.

Oakland officials approved a program that initially sets aside half of the city’s marijuana licenses for low-income residents who have been convicted of a cannabis crime or who live in a specified neighborhood where drug enforcement has been intense. Advocates are urging similar programs statewide, including in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

African-Americans made up 5.6 percent of the state but 16 percent of marijuana arrests in 2015, according to an AP analysis of statistics collected by the FBI.

COLORADO

The first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use does not track industry demographics. A spokesman for the Denver department that oversees marijuana policy, Daniel Rowland, said individual businesses have programs to employ minorities, but nothing is mandated by the city.

A report by the Colorado Public Safety Department found that arrest rates for African-American and Latino juveniles increased after legalization, while the rate for white juveniles went down.

African-Americans made up nearly 4 percent of the Colorado population in 2015 and 11 percent of arrests.

FLORIDA

Florida lawmakers passed a bill last year to address issues that arose with the state’s 2014 medical marijuana law, including provisions to favor black farmers.

The provisions ensure that once the state’s medical marijuana patient registry reaches 250,000, three additional cultivation licenses will be made available, with one of them designated for a member of the Florida Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association.

Black farmers in Florida were among thousands across the country who sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture for racial discrimination, saying they had been unfairly denied government loans and subsidies in the 1980s and 1990s. The case ended with an historic settlement in 1999.

MARYLAND

The state’s rollout of medical marijuana has been marred by lawsuits filed by groups that were not among the 15 initially approved by the state for cultivation licenses. None of the 15 was owned by African-Americans, according to the Legislative Black Caucus, despite language in the law that requires regulators to seek “racial, ethnic and geographical diversity” in the awarding of licenses.

The General Assembly ended its legislative session last month without acting on a bill designed to create diversity by allowing up to seven more licenses to grow marijuana, with two going to companies that are suing the state and five others for minority-owned companies after a disparity study is conducted. The caucus has called for a special session to consider the bill.

Minority groups comprise about 48 percent of Maryland’s population, including nearly 30 percent African-American. Blacks made up roughly 57 percent of cannabis arrests in 2015.

MASSACHUSETTS

The 2016 ballot question that legalized recreational marijuana included language to encourage participation in the cannabis industry by people who were “disproportionately harmed” by enforcement of marijuana laws in the past. The law does not exclude people with past marijuana convictions from applying for a retail license or working in a cannabis business.

Boston City Council member Ayanna Pressley has drafted proposed legislation that would direct 20 percent of unexpended revenue from state and local marijuana taxes toward programs to assure racial equity, including efforts to reduce financial barriers to ownership of businesses.

In 2015, African-Americans made up nearly 7 percent of the state’s population but 34 percent of cannabis arrests.

OHIO

The state’s 2016 medical marijuana law included some licenses set aside for minority businesses, but it’s questionable whether that provision would stand in court.

The benchmarks require at least 15 percent of Ohio’s marijuana-related licenses to go to the businesses of one of four economically disadvantaged minority groups — blacks, Hispanics, Asians or Native Americans — so long as an adequate number apply.

Legal experts have questioned whether the racial-preference provision would stand up in court, though no legal challenge has been filed to date.

African-Americans made up 12 percent of the state’s population in 2015, but 35 percent of arrests.

PENNSYLVANIA

Lawmakers passed a medical marijuana law in 2016, and subsequent regulations written by the Pennsylvania Department of Health included policies to ensure that medical cannabis organizations “foster participation of diverse groups in all aspects of their operations.”

Specifically, the rules require that applicants for cultivation and dispensing permits include in their initial applications a diversity plan that spells out how they will achieve racial equity through ownership, employment and contracting.

The agency is also required to make special efforts to help minorities learn how to apply for cultivation and dispensing permits. At least four predominantly minority groups have applied for medical marijuana permits, according to Philadelphia City Councilman Derek Green.

African-Americans were nearly 11 percent of the state in 2015 and made up 35 percent of arrests.

WASHINGTON

Recreational pot was legalized in Washington in 2012. The state has nearly 500 licensed retail stores.
Nearly 3 percent of retail license holders are African-American in a state where black people are 3.5 percent of the population . In 2015, African-Americans made up 11 percent of marijuana arrests.

Brian Smith, spokesman for the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, said the board is interested in diversifying licensees and may use targeted outreach to ethnic communities if they decide to license more people in the future.

WEST VIRGINIA

The state in April became the 29th in the U.S. to approve of marijuana use for certain medical conditions. The new law includes a provision requiring state regulators to seek ways of encouraging minority-owned businesses to apply for growing licenses.

African Americans were nearly 4 percent of the state in 2015 and made up 19 percent of arrests.


The black share of arrests for Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia were based on crime statistics that covered about 80 percent of each state’s population. Shares for other states were based on statistics covering at least 90 percent of each state’s population.

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In the cup of a revolution: The birth of CBD Coffee Shops

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Founding a company can be a daunting task for anyone. Starting from scratch isn’t easy, but it helps a ton if what you’re doing is important to you. David Dzurik is lucky in that way, as he found a passion that can drive him for the rest of his life. Originally inspired by beating cancer and using cannabis to help do so, Dzurik has created an extremely original brand in Deez CBD Coffee. The company combines high-quality coffee ingredients with 50% water-soluble CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that has shown tremendous promise in the healing of many ailments.

David Dzurik

As of now, you can purchase Deez CBD coffee on multiple online outlets including cbdwarewhouse.com – as well as other retail stores all over the nation.

Dzurik originally started the company using a medicated CBD tea archetype, however realizing the coffee market had so much potential, quickly jumped into production about a year ago. Within the year, the community has been very receptive of the products quality and has given a ton of praise. In a great business move, Deez Coffee partnered with the two-time award winning CBD chemists at Sacred Body CBD, giving him a constant supply of high-quality CBD.

While the movement of the company is already transitioning fast, there’s another aspect that Dzurik is even more excited to see. Deez Coffee is the inspiration for the first ever CBD infused coffee shop, which is already planning on opening in New York and quickly making its waves to the Colorado market. An idea that has already taken off in places like New Zealand and Australia.

While the company is already growing well and seems to be on the right track, Dzurik doesn’t want to stop there. He has plans for bringing back Deez Tea at some point and is very interested in expanding his product line even further.  While the healing effects of non-psychoactive CBD will always be the focus for Dzurik, he also recognizes the huge potential market for recreational THC products as well. While there’s not a legal way to regulate THC products yet, Dzurik doesn’t count out the idea for future ventures.

Working with Deez CBD Coffee over the past year, Dzurik has seen an outpouring of community support and praise. Some social cannabis clubs have been quick to carry Deez products and have even gone on to throw co-sponsored charity events in support of veterans.

Working to help the people who need help and can benefit from CBD Coffee is one of Dzurik’s biggest passions and he isn’t in the industry for the money. Being a cancer survivor himself, it’s no wonder why he believes so strongly in the powerful benefits of CBD and cannabis.

Dzurik is on the forefront of what seems to be a revolution that is slowly making its way to Colorado. The idea of CBD coffee shops hasn’t been touched in the Colorado market yet, and Deez Tea is looking to help break in on the ground floor. With a ton of passion for helping people and an high-quality product, it makes sense people are connecting with Dzurik’s mission.

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Colorado

Sal Pace: He led on cannabis, now he’s leaving office

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Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace isn’t running for re-election. That leaves a huge question mark over the next name that will lead Pueblo County on a number of issues, but particularly the marijuana issue.

Pace has been at the front of the conversation of what a legal marijuana market should look like, how it should operate and how it can be better in Pueblo and across the state.

The former State House minority leader and current county commissioner has had his name tied to the subject of marijuana since the beginning — he was elected to the legislature in 2008 and appointed to county commissioner in 2013. In 2016, Pace held tight to his support of the marijuana industry, opting to celebrate the downfall of potential industry-killer Props. 200 and 300 in Pueblo instead of watching results roll in with fellow Democrats.

The death of Pace’s father last year and the sudden death of his sister has caused the lawmaker to take a hard look at his life, notably the time spent — and not spent — with his family. He wants more of it, and so that involves less lawmaking.

“Sadly for me, it took losing my own father and sister to fully comprehend the importance of being present for my kids and wife,” Pace wrote in an editorial announcing his decision to not seek re-election. “I know that no lost experience can ever be replaced.”

In a sit-down interview with PULP, Pace talks the politics and policy of the industry and where local leaders should pay close attention to as more states legalize.

So, you’re not running for reelection. Was that a tough decision?

Nope. I think it’s important to reevaluate your values. It’s a constant struggle determining perception versus being here in the now. Ego is really based on past experiences and future expectations.

You’ve been seen as a leader for the marijuana industry in Pueblo. Do you think that will be your legacy?

That’ll be for the political pundits to decide.

How did this become your issue, anyway?

Because too many politicians are cowards. It’s a no-brainer. Especially when you look at the overwhelming support from the public. I don’t think it’s very risky at all. I feel very confident that 20 years now from now people will laugh that there was ever marijuana prohibition.

Do you think taking on marijuana policy like you did was a good political move?

I don’t know if it served me well politically. I’ve enjoyed being on the front-end of policy debates. I enjoy the opportunity to shape policy. If the goal is to be popular and reelected easily, which is the normal definition in modern-day politics, then no, this hasn’t been good for politics.

The emails and scowls and the threats I get daily response from prohibitionists? No. Other issues didn’t bring out the visceral response from the public.

It’s no secret that there has been a vocal group against the industry in Pueblo — they still say pot has made Pueblo worse off. Is there something the pro-marijuana camp can learn from them?

I’m probably talking to regulators and policy makers in other states 2-3 times per week. And I’ve met with dozens of states and regulators and legislators from several different countries. I tell people to not expect the opposition to disappear because there’s overwhelming support. Frankly, had I known (the opposition) wouldn’t respect the will of the voters, there were policies I would have done differently to alleviate some of their responses.

I think we’ll have some form of national legalization and decriminalization in the next three years. And I don’t know how the local prohibitionists will react, but it will take a lot of the wind out of their sails.

The marijuana scholarships got a lot of attention — even nation wide — do you think they’ll have a lasting effect on Pueblo’s economy?

There are people that weren’t going to go to college or were going to go somewhere else. There were kids that were going to take a year off, but didn’t so they could qualify for the scholarship program. I think it’s a bit of a chicken and egg argument, but I don’t think anything can go wrong with a more educated populace.

Do you have advice for other Pueblo leaders on how to navigate the future of legalized cannabis?

I think, considering the vocal minority still exists, the city did the right thing on a limited number of store fronts. I think it’s important to look at the tax rate. That doesn’t play a big role on the retail side, but as we want to keep the thousands of jobs in cultivation and manufacturing, it’s important we don’t tax them out of existence.

I’m probably going to propose tapping the excise tax. I think there are two areas where policy makers should keep a keen eye on. One is continuing to foster cultivation — that’s where we have a distinct advantage. In the county, I think that means working with some of the largest dispensary chains in the state.

We can create another couple of thousands jobs by doing that.

In the city, they should really take a look at their 8 percent excise tax. They might not realize it, but they’re driving away a lot of business.

The other piece that’s really important is cannabis research at CSU-Pueblo. When you’re generating intellectual property or new ways of production — that wealth from IP will be worth more than just cultivating or dispensing.

Do you think this Institute of Cannabis Research will put CSU-Pueblo on the map?

Oh, absolutely, if they embrace it. They’ll have to deal with the same political issues that I did.

What’s your vision for Pueblo and marijuana in 10 years?

I think the big variable is whether there will be shipment of cannabis across state lines in 10 years. And you know, I’m really nervous about the overproduction of wholesale cannabis. Obviously Pueblo has played a role in that. We could see point of sales decrease in Colorado.

I’m really concerned about people surviving and the commoditization of product. It’s a lot more affordable to buy it wholesale than grow it in Denver. In 10 years from now, I think we’ll have legal shipment across state lines. It will allow Pueblo to be a cultivation hub for the nation.

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Colorado

Smell of marijuana no longer enough cause to search a vehicle in Colorado

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DENVER — Drug-sniffing police dogs in Colorado may need new training if they can detect marijuana, after a ruling last week by the Colorado Court of Appeals that sets a new precedent for drug cases.

A three-judge panel agreed that if a drug-sniffing dog is trained to alert officers to marijuana and other drugs, cops need more cause to search a vehicle without permission.

The decision came out of a 2015 case in Moffat County, where a drug-sniffing dog named Kilo alerted officers to the presence of an illegal drug in a truck driven by Craig resident Kevin McKnight, The (Grand Junction) Sentinel reported.

But because Kilo could not tell officers whether he smelled pot or other drugs, the search was illegal, judges wrote. The dog was trained to identify to detect cocaine, heroin, Esctasy, methamphetamine and marijuana. Marijuana possession by adults over 21 is legal in Colorado.

“A dog sniff could result in an alert with respect to something for which, under Colorado law, a person has a legitimate expectation of privacy,” judges wrote in the ruling.

“Because a dog sniff of a vehicle could infringe upon a legitimate expectation of privacy solely under state law, that dog sniff should now be considered a ‘search’ … where the occupants are 21 years or older.”

Courts in other states with legal marijuana for medical or recreational purposes have said that a pot smell alone is insufficient for a warrantless search. Those states include Arizona and California.
The smell of marijuana in a Colorado search is still sufficient if there are other factors that raise an officer’s suspicion.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that a drug dog’s smell test can “contribute” to a probable cause determination if the suspects are doing something else to raise suspicion.

“The odor of marijuana is still suggestive of criminal activity,” the Supreme Court wrote in that decision.

But in the Moffat County case, judges concluded that the dog’s alert did more than “contribute” to a decision to search the car because the man gave no indication he was impaired or doing anything illegal.

“The police lacked the requisite reasonable suspicion to subject McKnight’s truck to a dog sniff,” judge wrote.

The resulting search turned up a glass pipe commonly used to smoke meth, and McKnight was later convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance.

The decision reverses McKnight’s conviction.

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