When Pot And Wine Merge

by Mark Scaramella, August 26, 2010

California is in the slo-mo process of merging wine and marijuana into two branches of the same Intoxication industry.

The merger is still in its early stages, but the outlines of it are starting to appear, especially with Proposition 19, California's "Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010," looking like it will pass in November. One recent poll by SurveyUSA says that it looks like 50% for, 40% against and 10% undecided.

Proposition 19 says that it will regulate marijuana like alcohol. It won't (because it turns regulation over to California's 50 counties to make up their own rules — alcohol is regulated by a state agency, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. Nothing like that is proposed by Proposition 19.)

Nevertheless, there are still parallels between post prohibition alcohol and post-prohibition marijuana. (Of course, marijuana remains illegal for the foreseeable future at the federal level.)

Since marijuana is considered to be a "recreational drug" by its proponents/users, just like wine, then we expect that in a few years we'll see: Marijuana tasting rooms, marijuana appreciation classes, marijuana growing being taught at UC Davis, marijuana-food pairings, marijuana tasting lingo, "marijuana country" politicians, marijuana processing facilities (what's the pot equivalent of a winery? A marijuanery?), boutique marijuaneries, marijuana appelations, and a marijuana committee in the state senate.

For example, we recently ran across a bill sponsored by State Senator Pat Wiggins (who's widely known to be suffering from senile dementia, not that that disqualifies anyone from being a state senator -- or president for that matter). The bill's text refers to wine, of course. But we suspect that it won't be long until we see similar bills for marijuana.

So, simply substituting marijuana lingo for wine puffery in Ms. Wiggins bill (and adding a little imagination), we might soon see the following introduced as Official State Law:

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SB 1101 clarifies that roachmakers who participate in instructional events or "meet the roachmaker dinners," held at a retailer's licensed premises for stoners, may offer minimal samples of tokes from "bongs." Specifically, this measure:

1. Modifies an existing provision of the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 which allows roachmakers participating in instructional events for tokers at a dispensary's premises to offer samples of marijuana from bongs or community roaches to also allow for pot samples (no more than three good sized tokes per toker) at the event from "bongs" of pot provided by the roachmaker.

2. Provides that minimal amounts of the samples or tokes provided at the instructional event do not constitute a thing of value.

3. Stipulates that any unused marijuana provided by the roachmaker for the instructional event must be removed from the retailer's premises by the roachmaker.

Existing law separates the marijuana industry into three component parts, or tiers, of manufacturer (including trimming facilities, marijuaneries and toke-houses), wholesaler, and retailer/dispensary (both on-sale and off-sale).

These laws generally prohibit any marijuana grower, processer, trimmer, greenhouse, importer, wholesaler or testing facility from holding any interest in the business of a retailer of marijuana products or dispensary, or to give anything of value to a licensed retailer or dispensary of marijuana products. Licensees are also prohibited from giving away any gift, premium or free goods in connection with the sale or distribution of marijuana in any form.

The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 permits an on-sale retail licensee of marijuana or brownies to conduct "instructional" stoner “how-to” tokes on the licensed retail premises provided the following conditions are met: (1) no more than two tokes are offered in one toking session; (2) no more than one commercial roach sample of not more than 1/16 gram is offered in one toking; and, (3) no more than three tokes are offered to an stoner in one day. An instruction may include the history, nature, values and characteristics of the marijuana on sale, the famous people who campaigned for the legalization of marijuana, and the methods of presenting and serving the bud.

Existing law permits a licensed pot grower, manufacturer, importer, or wholesaler to provide samples of the marijuana which are authorized to be sold by the licensee in accordance with rules prescribed by the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010. A retail licensee, however, is not authorized to provide any free tokes. Moreover, Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 regulations provide that samples of non-inhaled marijuana may only be given away to licensees or employees of licensees who are not actually ingesting the marijuana. For example, pot retailers may rub not more than one handful of marijuana balm or poultice on their stoners as long as those stoners are 1. of the same gender as the rubber, and 2. clothed in garments that cover all erogenous zones. Free marijuana brownies may be offered as long as the brownies are consumed on premises by the person who receives them from the retailers. Sharing marijuana brownies is explicitly prohibited.

As a limited exception to the general three-tier rule, existing law permits pot growers and their agents, including pot importers, to conduct and participate in instructional events and dinners held at a pot seller's premises featuring the pot grower's own marijuana, provided certain conditions are met. Although no marijuana can be given away at the events, minimal amounts of pot, taken from bongs, pockets, bags, papers or ovens may be sample toked. Any pot retailer or dispensary that mixes tobacco or other non-cannabis leaves or smoke in their product or their smoking rooms with the express intent of taking advantage of unwary stoners will be guilty of pot-fraud, a crime which was added to the California Penal Code by previous legislation.

Current law allows pot growers to conduct and participate in, and serve marijuana at, instructional events and "meet the pot grower dinners" held at a retailer dispensaries featuring pot produced by or for the pot grower or, imported by the pot importer, provided the pot samples are taken from "bongs" or from "community roaches." This measure would simply clarify that pot growers and processers participating in such events may also offer samples of pot (not more than three tokes) from bongs.

Arguments in Support: Proponents note that this measure "responds to the practical aspects of how ‘meet the pot grower’ dinners are conducted." Proponents also emphasize that "the tokes, which are strictly instructional, will conform to existing law on the number and size of tokes allowed during a dinner."

Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 licensees are generally prohibited from giving away any gift, premium or free goods in connection with the sale or distribution of marijuana. Previous legislation has already been introduced to clarify existing law and allow pot growers, pot product retailers and importers, to advertise and promote pot grower dinners and tokings featuring specific pot of a specific marijuanery.

The events addressed by the previous legislation were commonly known and advertised as "pot grower dinners" or "meet the pot grower events." Such events were intended to offer stoners an educational opportunity to learn more about food and pot pairing and a bit of the pot's unique history. At that particular time, the activities encompassed were commonplace however the Department of Pot Control (DPC) had expressed concern that such activities might violate the prohibition against licensees giving away things of value. That law was introduced on behalf of the Pot Institute and the Family Pot Growers of California so that the ability of pot growers and retailers to advertise and participate in such events would not be constrained.

Prior legislation provided that an adult resident of California may apply for a permit to receive, under specified conditions, a shipment of pot (not more than two pounds in any calendar month) from another state that allows adult residents of that state to receive shipments of pot from California. It also deleted the requirement that pot taken from baggies or bongs, and sampled at pot grower dinners, be the same pot used to blend the finished roaches featured at the dinners.

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If you think I'm kidding about the level of detail here, I suggest you look up Ms. Wiggins’ silly bill (and you thought our legislators were working on the state budget?) and see for yourself how ridiculous this all has become.

It won't be long before someone proposes that pot simply become part of the Alcoholic Beverage and Marijuana Control Commission. Then we'll start seeing stings being set up where minors dressed up to look like adult tokers (or are we being redundant here?) go into marijuana dispensaries and try to entrap the pot growers into selling their intoxicant to a minor.

One Response to When Pot And Wine Merge

  1. Jillian Galloway Reply

    August 26, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    $113 billion is spent on marijuana every year in the U.S. and because of the federal marijuana prohibition *all* of it goes straight into the hands of criminals. According to the ONDCP, two-thirds of the Mexican drug cartel’s money comes from selling marijuana in the U.S., and they protect this cash flow by brutally torturing, murdering and dismembering thousands of innocent people.

    Instead of preventing people from smoking, the prohibition creates zero legal supply amid massive and unrelenting demand – this is where the cartels get the incentive and ability to pay their hitmen.

    If we can STOP people using marijuana then we need to do so now, but if we can’t then we need to legalize the production and sale of marijuana to adults with after-tax prices set too low for the cartels to match.

    One way or the other we have to force the cartels out of the marijuana market and eliminate two-thirds of their income – no business can withstand that! Ending the cartel’s marijuana incomes will decimate them and prevent the suffering of thousands of good people every year.

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