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Rules, Sessions and Stinky Weed


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The three state agencies tasked with regulating California's medical cannabis industry released 114 pages of draft rules that are designed to make the industry cleaner and safer, if a bit more expensive to operate in.

The rules — which are now circulating for a 45-day comment period that will include a June 1 workshop at Eureka's Adorni Center — would require that all medical marijuana sold in the state be lab-tested and traced from seed to sale. They would cap patients at buying 8 ounces of marijuana buds per day, prohibit dispensaries from doling out free samples, limit dispensary hours of operation to between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., and require that 42 percent of the electricity spent on indoor farms come from renewable sources.

Of course, the rules will lead to higher costs of doing business for farmers and dispensaries, with regulators estimating $524 per pound in additional compliance costs. Is that too much? Do you need the option of picking up your medicine at 5 a.m.? Is 42 percent too little? If you want to weigh in on the proposed regulations, you can submit comments online at www.bmcr.ca.gov.

It looks like anti-marijuana crusadin', swashbucklin' U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is running into the checks and balances inherent in our democratic republic.

Buried deep in the short-term spending bill that Congress is expected to pass in the coming days to avert a government shutdown is a renewal of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which directs the Justice Department to respect states' medical marijuana laws and prohibits Sessions from using any of his department's funding to crack down on medical weed.

The amendment has been a mainstay in congressional budget bills since first passed in 2014, but Sessions' comments — "good people don't smoke marijuana," that pot is only "slightly less awful" than heroin and that it remains a "violation of federal law to distribute marijuana" — have caused widespread panic in cannabis industry circles. I think it's safe to say news coming out of Washington these days has been a bit, well, unpredictable, which has added to industry unease.

It should be noted, though, that the amendment only pertains to medical cannabis and it appears there is nothing preventing Sessions from throwing the entire weight of the federal government at fighting recreational weed if he choses to do so.

Speaking of things buried, Humboldters are a hard bunch to impress when it comes to finding new ways to hide and smuggle the green weed. This, however, maybe a first: Border patrol agents working an immigration checkpoint in Arizona last weekend stopped a hearse and found 57 pounds of marijuana tucked inside a mahogany coffin.

The driver — a 28-year-old U.S. citizen — gave inconsistent information to agents, who then brought in a canine unit to check the hearse, according to the Associated Press, which valued the seizure at $33,000.

Now, at this point, you might find yourself thinking, "That's only $579 a pound. Must be some shit weed." Well, you don't know the half of it.

Turns out, somebody needs to get that drug-sniffing dog a biscuit — and probably a bath. The poor pup had to sift through a fair bit of shit to find that substandard stash. Agents reported that the smugglers had covered the marijuana with several bags of manure before closing the casket in an attempt to mask the odor.

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor at the Journal. Reach him at 442-1400, extension 321, or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @thadeusgreenson.


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