The city of Sacramento is looking into potentially allowing cannabis consumption lounges at dispensaries in the city.
This means that onsite consumption of cannabis would be a possibility for Sacramentans.
A possible pilot program was discussed at Tuesday’s council meeting, leading local cannabis business owners to jump at the idea.
Maisha Bahati, CEO of Crystal Nugs, is opening up a new two-story dispensary in the heart of midtown Sacramento and she’s ahead of the game.
Bahati let KCRA 3 into her building, which has a lounge for cannabis consumption almost ready to go.
“We secured this space almost two years ago when we found out that we received one of the 10 equity dispensaries in Sacramento,” Bahati said.
However, the city of Sacramento still has to develop the potential ordinance change that authorizes social consumption consistent with what state law allows and it will include feedback on public safety from communities that have already established “consumption lounges,” before a pilot program is launched.
The city council meeting heard from over three dozen residents — most of whom supported social lounges for cannabis consumption.
“Some people can’t consume at home. Some people can’t consume in their apartments or in their rental homes. And so, where are they doing? They’re kind of out in front of everyone and now everyone is affected. So allowing social consumption lounges is going to really make a mark on Sacramento,” Bahati said.
Conversations about the consumption lounges will return to the law and legislation Committee in the coming months.
Other cities that already have cannabis consumption lounge areas are Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Coachella, and San Francisco.
Right now, those facilities aren’t expressly allowed to prepare non-cannabis food and drinks.
But California lawmakers recently passed a bill that would allow cannabis consumption facilities to serve “non-cannabis food or beverage products” like cafes in Amsterdam. The bill, which would also allow ticketed entertainment events at the facilities, is on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.
Cannabis has been making headlines in recent years as more and more states legalize its use for medicinal purposes. From reducing chronic pain to treating anxiety and depression, the benefits of cannabis are numerous and well-documented.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the benefits of cannabis and how it can be used to improve the quality of life for those suffering from a variety of medical conditions.
One of the most well-known benefits of cannabis is its ability to manage chronic pain. Whether caused by an injury, a medical condition, or simply aging, chronic pain can be debilitating and have a negative impact on a person’s daily life. Medical cannabis has been shown to be an effective pain reliever, helping to reduce pain and improve overall quality of life for those suffering from chronic pain.
Anxiety and Depression
In addition to its pain-relieving properties, medical cannabis has also been shown to be an effective treatment for anxiety and depression. This is because the compounds in medical cannabis, such as THC and CBD, interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates mood and anxiety levels. By using medical cannabis, patients can experience a reduction in anxiety and depression, leading to improved mood and overall quality of life.
For those suffering from conditions like epilepsy, medical cannabis can be a life-changing treatment. Cannabis has been shown to be an effective treatment for seizures, reducing the frequency and severity of seizures in many patients. This can be especially beneficial for children who suffer from seizures, as it can help improve their quality of life and reduce the impact of seizures on their daily activities.
Cannabis has also been shown to be an effective treatment for sleep disorders, such as insomnia. By reducing anxiety and pain, medical cannabis can help improve sleep quality and allow patients to get the rest they need to feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
In conclusion, the benefits of medical cannabis are numerous and well-documented. From reducing pain and anxiety to improving sleep and seizure control, medical cannabis can be a life-changing treatment for those suffering from a variety of medical conditions. If you’re considering using cannabis to improve your quality of life, be sure to speak with your doctor and do your research to find a reputable dispensary and cannabis products that are right for you.
Cannabis-delivery company Crystal Nugs is planting roots in Midtown with plans to open a storefront dispensary in a vacant building at the corner of J and 23rd streets.
Crystal Nugs CEO Maisha Bahati said once operational, it will be the largest cannabis dispensary in Sacramento.
The building at 2300 J St. was previously occupied by J’s Beauty Supply. The two-story location is 7,800 square feet and has its own parking garage with 18 spaces, Bahati said.
“We have owned a tattoo shop on J Street for 12 years right across the street and have always admired the building but never imagined opening a dispensary there,”she said. “It sits on the corner and there is a lot of foot traffic in the area. Parking was also a big deal for us, so it’s just a great location. I think we’ll fit in well with the neighborhood.”
Bahati envisions the lobby occupying downstairs, with the dispensary and showroom upstairs. She said the amount of space will allow the opportunity for innovation in terms of how brands are showcased.
Crystal Nugs is one of 10 local cannabis companies that received dispensary permits from the city through its Cannabis Opportunity Reinvestment and Equity (CORE) Program, which was created to assist those facing barriers to starting cannabis businesses due to the historical disparate enforcement of cannabis crimes.
The planned dispensary will put an emphasis on women-owned and minority-owned brands, Bahati said, especially those local to the region.
“I just want people to be able to come to this staple location in Sacramento and know that you’ll find local, equity-owned, women-owned brands, and top brands in the market,” she said.
The planned dispensary is organizing an open house this weekend to allow Midtown residents to learn more about the vision for Crystal Nugs and meet the team. Approximately 2,900 invites were sent out, Bahati said, and the goal is to let residents ask questions and show that the dispensary is committed to the neighborhood and transparency.
Architectural plans are in the process of being finished for the location, which Bahati is leasing. Once those are completed, Crystal Nugs will apply for a conditional use permit through the city to operate a dispensary on the premises.
Bahati said if all goes according to plan, they expect to have doors open to the public in the fourth quarter of 2022.
By Jake Abbott – Staff Writer, Sacramento Business Journal
There’s a new kind of celebration attached to the Thanksgiving holiday week, and it is centered around cannabis consumption.
Green Wednesday is the marijuana industry’s big sales day, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some Sacramento dispensaries are seeing a lot of green from the aptly named day.
Several people crowded around the counter at NUG Sacramento, waiting for their weed. The high demand at the downtown Sacramento dispensary is a result of Green Wednesday.
“It’s been busy all day, actually. It’s our marijuana industries, our Black Friday, per say,” NUG Sacramento general manager Jonathyn Newsom said.
Newsom said the Thanksgiving-adjacent sales day has been all the buzz for a couple years now. Compared to a normal day, it is bringing double the amount of cannabis customers into his shop.
“I want to say maybe this is the second year that I’ve seen it in effect. This year, more or less, being in full effect,” Newsom said.
With the menu full of discounted pot products, NUG “budtenders” were barely able to catch their breath Wednesday.
“It has been pretty crazy, nonstop,” Budtender Eric Comacho said.
Comacho says customers have been telling him and fellow budtenders why they are buying cannabis ahead of Thanksgiving. Many have said that they plan to treat the holiday madness with marijuana.
“A lot of people are coming just because they know they’re going home to visit their families, so that’s definitely the number one reason I’ve been hearing,” Comacho said.
From flowers to vapes to edibles, NUG said all of its products flew off the shelves Wednesday. But they are not the only dispensary in Sacramento that saw that happen.
A Therapeutic Alternative, another joint in town, saw about 50% more pot patrons on Green Wednesday this year.
“We had some doorbuster sales in the morning that were gone within an hour of opening,” A Therapeutic Alternative Director of Education Hezekiah Allen said.
Allen said for A Therapeutic Alternative, Green Wednesday is more than just items on a menu. It is a sign that the “cloud of smoke” around the cannabis industry is lifting.
“It’s been a long journey to get to legalization, to get to normalization, and to have this sort of attention and to have the sort of tradition focused on the holiday is really encouraging and empowering,” Allen said.
“It’s showing how far cannabis is coming and how it’s being normalized,” Newsom said.
Newsom says it is a step in the right direction – and a way to save green, on green, for Thanksgiving.
Some dispensaries tell KCRA 3 their deals will continue through Black Friday and even Cyber Monday.
Sacramento’s growing marijuana industry is about to get even bigger.
On Thursday, city leaders announced the finalists for ten new pot shop permits. The demand for these licenses is huge and big money is at stake.
Maisha Bahati just learned she is among the ten budding business people selected for the City of Sacramento’s new cannabis permits.
“It was insane. We were so excited, we had gone out and bought champagne last night just in case,” Bahati said.
More than 100 people applied for the coveted licenses, which would allow them to open a marijuana storefront dispensary.
“They gross anywhere from 4 to 8 million dollars a year,” said Davina Smith, the Sacramento City Cannabis Director.
Sacramento currently only allows 30 cannabis shops – and none are black-owned. These ten new licenses are an effort to diversify the marketplace. Applicants were judged not only on their business plans but on their personal stories.
“The drug war impacted me in some profound ways,” said Malaki Seku Amen, a cannabis business applicant.
He says his father was a casualty of marijuana criminalization.
“He was working to prevent the violence caused by the drug war and he was shot and killed,” Seku Amen said.
And others who were selected have been on the wrong side of the law in the past. But these ten lucky finalists still have a lot of work to do.
“They’re celebrating tonight but the work starts tomorrow because they have to go through every step of the permitting process that anyone else would,” Smith said, and later added, “people could be opening in six months. It could take others two years.”
Many hope the new infusion of income will benefit Sacramento’s economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
“We’re going to pull from our community, we’re going to hire women, it’s just going to be a diverse business, something that’s different from what’s out there now,” Seku Amen said.
Sacramento places a 4% tax on all cannabis products sold in the city. That’s expected to generate about 17 million dollars this year.
More than a fifth of the cannabis companies in Sacramento, California, are confronting the possibility of at least a temporary suspension of operations on the first day of February.
City regulators sent notices to dozens of registered marijuana businesses in December as a reminder they had not formally completed the process for acquiring a Sacramento business operations permit.
Though many have finished the process since then, officials in California’s state capital said last week that 58 businesses still have not completed the paperwork and might have to cease operations as of Feb. 1 until they can get it in order.
“We felt that it was our obligation to ensure that our applicants were moving forward, and if they weren’t, then they’re no longer going to be able to continue to operate,” Sacramento Assistant City Manager Leyne Milstein said.
Here’s what you need to know:
The city has a total of 265 pending marijuana business applications, including many that are already operational, Milstein said.
So far, the city has issued 107 licenses, including 85 operating permits for companies that have completed the entire process.
The 58 that face closure are cultivators, manufacturers, distributors and delivery services. None are retail storefronts, Milstein said.
Milstein noted letters went out to license applicants last July, reminding all that they needed to finish the permitting process. Since then, many have complied.
Any of the 58 that do not comply with the order to cease operations could face civil fines.
At least one of those companies has already filed a legal challenge, asking a judge for a stay on the Feb. 1 deadline, said attorney James Anthony, who represents Marpe, a state-licensed cultivator in Sacramento that received one of the December warning letters.
Anthony said Marpe is working on complying with the city regulations but that it could take another six months to a year.
“Now I guess we’re going to slug it out in front of a judge,” he said.
Another state-licensed Sacramento operator who received one of the letters, Teri Apple, who has run cannabis delivery service STC Alternative Healing since 2016, said she’s uncertain whether she can make the Feb. 1 deadline.
Apple said she’s been trying to come into city compliance since receiving a notice in July that her building wasn’t up to code, but the city building department has repeatedly identified new problems for her landlord to handle. That’s delayed her ability to finish the permitting process, Apple said.
Her landlord will have to complete new electrical work and interior remodeling – all of which is unlikely to be finished by the start of February, Apple said.
“If it wasn’t for the building department throwing different things at us, we would have been completed,” she said.
Apple is worried that even a temporary closure would force her out of business.
“To have me shut down, even for a week, it could be the death of me,” she said.
Medical cannabis collectives would gather at word-of-mouth events, where patients would meet suppliers at farmers market-like settings
“Prop. 64 killed medical marijuana!” Jose Lara shouted at a pop-up medical cannabis collective marketplace in December. The sales representative for NorCal Nectar, a cannabis oil extraction company, was lamenting the January 9 repeal of California’s Medical Marijuana Program Act, which now bans medical cannabis collectives from gathering and selling products in a farmers market-like setting. This also means that patients who once joined these collectives to afford their medicine must now buy directly from higher-priced medicinal and recreational dispensaries.
Cannabis collectives, also called cooperatives, are private nonprofits whose member patients and suppliers gather at “sesh” events such as December’s pop-up known as an Orbit Show, where patients speak directly with product representatives and receive significant discounts over dispensary prices. Collectives were conceived as part of Proposition 215 in 1996, and their legal protection was reaffirmed in 2003 with passage of Senate Bill 420.
After voters approved Proposition 64 in 2016 to legalize recreational cannabis, state regulators overruled the medical provisions. In January 2018, the deadline was set for collectives to relicense or reduce their size to “caregiver gardens serving no more than five people,” according to the state Bureau of Cannabis Control.
But because reaching full compliance would be too costly for such small groups, most collectives have disbanded.
The 1130 Club collective averaged more than 700 patients at its last few Terpy Thursday events, according to operator Will Hennessee. At the December event, hip-hop music spilled out into the cold air, while the smell of Philly cheesesteaks from a food trailer wafted back inside. As patients shopped for cannabis, some said goodbye to their favorite vendors and wondered about the future.
“It’s been an emotional three days,” said Karrie Stackpoole, a sales representative for SpOILed Gold Country extracts. She said she heard talk of organizing secret meet-ups, but was apprehensive about the risk. “I don’t want to go underground,” she said.
An early indicator of her future was a patch inside a display case reading, “In Memory of Prop 215, 1996-2017.”
“Wasn’t California supposed to protect the small growers, and patients like us?” asked Debra Cowen, a massage therapist and medical cannabis patient since 2013. While buying vape cartridges for her joint pain, Cowen repeated a common view in the medical cannabis community that “politicians threw medical marijuana under the bus for the taxes.”
Some dispensary owners agree.
“As a patient and dispensary owner I understand what many of these patients feel, and how hard it was before to afford your medicine,” said Haley Andrew, owner of Dixon Wellness Collective. “Hopefully our regulators are understanding why patients are using sesh parties … and can help on the regulatory side to lower the taxes on cannabis.”
The view is also echoed among dispensary owners who applied for recreational business licensing, in addition to operating as a longtime medicinal haven.
“When we advocated for state regulations, we expected that all businesses in operation would be able to transition into the regulated market,” said Kimberly Cargile, executive director of A Therapeutic Alternative in Midtown. “It is very sad because most of the people stuck in the unregulated market are there for the right reasons, they just want to help patients safely access affordable cannabis.”
Alex Traverso, communications chief at the state bureau, said it plans to work with collective operators to help transition them over to the legal market. He also said that the bureau has already issued temporary licenses to businesses operating as collectives.
“I would love to comply,” said Hennessee of the 1130 Club. “But we don’t have the money to compete with the big companies.”
Hennessee scheduled a meeting with member suppliers to consider their future in the new regulated climate.
“I do not know of any collectives that were able to transition without taking on partners that either brought money or business experience to the table,” Cargile said.
Critics argue that on-site cannabis consumption at sesh events violates local ordinances. Organizers of these pop-up marketplaces would regularly change the event locations to stay under the radar of local authorities. The state Bureau of Cannabis Control has pledged to increase enforcement in 2019.
When asked about the likelihood of local prosecutions, Sacramento Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Grippi told SN&R in an email that the office doesn’t offer “charging opinions on hypothetical arrest scenarios.”
Still, Orbit Show organizer Jose Agacio was philosophical about the future.
“It’s been well worth the endeavors and obstacles,” he said. “With the community staying strong, the support and dedication of every one, we shall see a brighter day.”
Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed a bill to give adult cannabis users some privacy.
Assembly Bill 2402 by Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, extends the same privacy protections to recreational cannabis users that medical cannabis users receive, with two exceptions. Information can be shared in conjunction with processing payments and to government officials, such as police, performing official duties.
The measure is largely aimed at preventing buyer information form being sold or traded for commercial use.
The bill also clarifies existing law “that all personal information of medical cannabis users is kept confidential by deeming identification cards issued to medical cannabis users to be ‘medical information’ under state law and therefore protected from unauthorized disclosure,” according to a statement from Low’s office.
The bill passed the Assembly 63-10 and the Senate 29-9. The law takes effect Jan. 1.
More than seven months after marijuana became legal in California for adults over 21, advocates have a lot to be thankful for and yet still much to be desired.
Cities up and down the coast where Proposition 64 in 2016 passed by some of the ballot measure’s highest margins have banned dispensaries.
They have prevented individuals from growing cannabis in their backyards.
And now, with the state’s California Bureau of Cannabis Control poised to adopt new rules permanently governing the adult use of marijuana, cities are lining up in opposition to a provision that would force them to allow delivery services. A 60-day public comment period on the rules ends Aug 26.
“We always wanted to preserve local control,” said Dustin Moore, a Manhattan Beach resident who served as the deputy campaign manager for the Yes on 64 campaign.
Local control was baked into the proposition, he said, giving cities the ability to prohibit if they wished how many dispensaries operated in their city, if any at all.
“Even in the eyes of what’s being interpreted now around delivery services, I would still argue it allows for local control,” Moore said. “What they (cities) don’t have the ability to do is prevent someone from driving on public roads and deliver to a private residence.”
Although many cities passed laws prohibiting delivery services, law enforcement officials have said there is virtually nothing they can do to enforce such restrictions. The issue of delivery services is essential to the original Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which said patients must be allowed safe and legal access to medicinal marijuana, Moore said.
A proposed initiative aims to overturn Pomona’s ban on commercial marijuana use.
A review of Weedmaps.com, a website dedicated to connecting patients to dispensaries, delivery services and doctors, show numerous services that deliver throughout the South Bay – where every city bans the business practice.
Many of those delivery services are not charging taxes or operating under any business license at all, putting them in a sort of gray market, observers say. Some dispensaries, located in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, out of the jurisdiction of cities with prohibitions, may also be operating under quasi-legal circumstances.
What cities also can’t control is the ability for an individual to grow up to six plants in the privacy of their own home. The proposition also decriminalized marijuana offenses and expunged past convictions depending on the amount involved.
Among Los Angeles-area beach cities, Long Beach is the only municipality that permits dispensaries through a voter-approved medical-marijuana initiative in 2016, which allows up to 32 licenses. The City Council approved last month rules that set up fees and licensing requirements for medical-marijuana dispensaries that also want to operate as adult-use ones; those fees run between $7,000 and $8,500, but they have yet to take effect.
Ivan Jimenez, a Long Beach resident who grows cannabis for his own business in Northern California, told the council at the time of the rulemaking process that he’d like to open up in his home city but he finds the fees too high.
“I would love to come here and invest money in the same industry,” Jimenez said during public comment. But “I believe the city of Long Beach is taking advantage of the taxing and taking advantage of the fees.”
Devil in details
Since January, when the adult-use law went into effect, dispensaries across the state have been adapting to new emergency regulations put in place to bridge the gap before permanent rules could be established.
Those emergency rules required by July 1 that all products, medicinal and recreational, be tested and labelled. The new rules also barred giveaways and allowed governments to impose taxes, some as high as 35 percent in combined local, county and state taxes.
Moore believes what bans and excessive taxes and fees are doing is “throwing gas on the illicit market.”
In Los Angeles County, where 59.5 percent of voters approved Prop 64, only 20 percent of municipalities allow some kind of operating license to sell pot. That’s not to say, however, that every supporter wants a dispensary around the corner from their house, Moore said.
“When you voted for Prop 64 what did you actually vote for. Were you voting for cannabis to be sold in your neighborhood or for cannabis to be made legal and end the war on drugs.”
Jonatan Cvetko, who heads the non-profit Emerald Angels that works toward responsible cannabis regulation, said rules such as one that requires child-resistant bags were a good thing. Like other advocates, Cvetko fears that the legal market is not given an opportunity to succeed.
“If the majority of the bans stay in place there will be no access for residents to find clean and safe products,” Cvetko said. “It’s not that the black market will come back, it’s that it hasn’t gone away. The goal was to allow existing operators to transition, so without any pathways for operators they have no choice but to stay in the illicit market.”
In Redondo Beach, the council was unified against the state’s rulemaking allowing delivery services even in cities with laws prohibiting them. The council directed staff to draft a letter to that effect. Similar letters were recently addressed to the state agency by the League of California Cities
While it opposed one important aspect of the rules, the Redondo Beach City Council also instructed the city manager to form a Cannabis Steering Committee. Mayor Bill Brand said that doesn’t mean the city is giving the green light to dispensaries.
“This is brand new legislative territory, so I’m looking forward to the recommendations from the city manager’s task force and more importantly, what the residents feel is appropriate for Redondo Beach,” Brand wrote in a statement. “No decisions will be made before a full vetting of all the issues.”
For more information on the cannabis industry in California and to comment on the proposed rules visit Cannabis.ca.gov.
A cloud of smoke hung over Cal Expo Friday afternoon as thousands gathered for the High Times Cannabis Cup, the first permitted event in California to allow recreational use of marijuana.
Organizers expected upwards of 15,000 people over the course of the two-day festival, which boasts musical performances from acclaimed artists, including Lauryn Hill, Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, Rich The Kid, Cypress Hill, Rick Ross and Ludacris.
The event was at risk of becoming a music-only festival until the Sacramento City Council approved a license for on-site consumption and sales in a 6-2 vote Tuesday. Weeks earlier, a similar High Times event had its permit denied by the San Bernardino City Council just before it was scheduled to take place.
At Cal Expo, crowds maneuvered their way through the rows of booths Friday afternoon, sometimes stopping to take long drags from blunts or sample products. In between puffs from a neatly-rolled joint, Brian Johnson said he was grateful to the city for approving the license.
“I think it was really cool for the city of Sacramento to trust the cannabis community to do something like this,” Johnson said. “I think we’ll hold up our end and have a great event with no mishaps. We’re just out here having fun, trying to socialize and enjoy our products.”
Other attendees, like medical marijuana user William Bennett, said they simply came to learn more about the cannabis industry.
Bennett said he wanted tips for growing marijuana at home. Bennett, who said he suffers from chronic pain caused by a back injury, began using medical marijuana about five years ago as an alternative to prescription opiate painkillers, which he said caused him unbearable side effects. Bennett has since started to grow his own.
“I’m kind of on the fence with recreational, but in the long run, it’s better than people drinking and doing other things,” Bennett said. “You don’t hear about people having big brawls and fights at (events like this). Everyone’s just sitting back.”
Bennett’s wife, Dianne Kirk-Bennett, said she was impressed with how expansive and well-organized the event was.
“If this is your thing, this is the place to be,” Kirk-Bennett said.
The event has approximately 280 vendors, selling marijuana-themed apparel and art, vape pens, concentrates, topicals, edibles and a variety of other cannabis products.
High Times Chief Revenue Officer Matt Stang said it felt “incredible” to host the event, which he characterized as a watershed moment for the industry.
“It gives me a feeling that we’ve really progressed as a country. We’ve come to a point where we can have a peaceful gathering to consume and purchase cannabis with a state sanction,” Stang said. “The ability to do this legally — it’s been a long fight. High Times has been doing this for 44 years. We started as the voice of the opposition, and now we’ve grown into the majority. ”
Security was tight during for the strictly 21-and-up event. Unlike most music festivals, no alcohol sales were allowed.
Joe Devlin, Sacramento’s chief of cannabis policy, said the event would generate more than $200,000 in tax revenue. Devlin said High Times “has a distinguished track record of hosting safe, successful and compliant cannabis events,” noting that the company had developed a “comprehensive security plan” that was approved by law enforcement and had organized a ride share program for those attending the festival.
Stang said High Times had contracted with two separate security firms to ensure no attendees purchased more than the legally-allowed amount and to check for impaired drivers. Ticket buyers were given Uber and Lyft codes at the time of purchase in order to minimize the risk of attendees driving under the influence.
For those in the industry, the event served as a safe demonstration to convince skeptics and state government officials.
“We want to make sure that people understand what a great, compliant, adult-use event can be, because we want this to be the model for the rest of the country,” Stang said.