Letters + Opinion » The Week in Weed

Permit Patty and Why Everything Must Go



If you've passed a cannabis dispensary in Humboldt recently, you've probably seen the brightly colored signs offering discounts of up to 80 percent. Dispensaries throughout the state have shifted into an everything-must-go, clearance-sale mindset, offering a last chance to buy potentially tainted weed at rock-bottom prices.

As of July 1, all cannabis products sold in California must be tested for pesticides and contaminants under the state's new regulatory framework and the grace period — during which dispensaries could sell untested products they purchased prior to Jan. 1 — will come to an end. So dispensaries are scurrying to clear their shelves before July 1, after which the products have to be destroyed, according the state Bureau of Cannabis Control.

That means customers who trust their retailers or are simply willing to gamble with their health have less than a week to stock up on cheap weed. And after July 1, well, it's unclear exactly what will be available, as some are predicting that a bottleneck at testing facilities will lead to a shortage on the shelves and, consequently, some higher prices. Locally, most dispensaries are indicating that they have lines on suppliers and distributors and don't expect much disruption, though they concede there may be temporary shortages of specific products.

Remember all that hype a couple of weeks back about looming federal legalization ("Plenty of Canni, No Fest," June 14)?

Well, you can go ahead and exhale. Maybe it's because our neighbors to the north beat us to the punch — Thanks, Justin — but the much hyped, bipartisan STATES Act has done nothing since being introduced. Well, that is, nothing other than being stymied by congressional party leadership.

The bill — which, introduced by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusets) and Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), would essentially end federal prohibition by removing cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act and letting states decide the issue for themselves — needs to get through committee hearings before making it to the Senate floor. But Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the key Senate Judiciary Committee, has no plans to entertain cannabis bills and hasn't set it for a hearing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) very recently said he opposes federal legislation and is busy pushing his farm bill that would legalize hemp production in the U.S. Even Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), who recently announced he's working on his own decriminalization bill, hasn't yet taken any steps to push the STATES Act forward.

And let's not forget that Congress allegedly has a couple of immigration bills on its plate and a continuing resolution looming at the end of September to keep the government funded, all before midterm elections in November. Plus, any lawmaker with any public profile is going to be endlessly pestered about the cleanliness of the Red Hen, whether Maxine Waters was inciting mob violence and what message exactly Melania was sending with that jacket.

So if you're breathlessly waiting federal movement on cannabis, you might want to stock up on some cheap edibles. It's going to be a while.

In contrast to America's slow, awkward stumble toward cannabis decriminalization, the viral backlash against Permit Patty came swiftly and decisively, leaving a seemingly successful cannabis business in a freefall.

By now you have probably seen the footage on social media or at least read about it: A white woman in San Francisco, later identified Alison Ettel, appearing to call police on an 8-year-old black girl selling bottles of water near AT&T Park (to help pay for a trip to Disneyland) because the girl didn't have a permit. The memes came fast and fierce and Ettel joined the internet ranks of Barbecue Becky and Starbucks managers.

You might remember Ettel from these pages ("Ruff Trip," Dec. 15), which featured a write-up of her business TreatWell and its line of CBD oils for pets and humans.

The scene between Ettel and the young bottled water entrepreneur began trending the morning of June 23 and by that afternoon critics were calling for a boycott of TreatWell. It seems to have worked, as a number of dispensaries throughout the state have announced they will no longer carry the company's products — despite their popularity — and several of the company's investors announced they were pulling out.

Locally, Heart of Humboldt, a dispensary in Arcata, announced June 25 that, "in light of recent events," it would no longer be purchasing or carrying TreatWell products.

In addition to the obvious racial overtones to this whole scene, from our vantage point in Humboldt County, we also can't help but see a certain irony in a cannabis industry CEO narcing on someone for operating without a permit, only to get ostracized for it.

's news editor. Reach him at 442-1400, extension 321, or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @thadeusgreenson.

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