The governor approved 10 weed-related bills including employment protection, resentencing, and veterinary medicine.
California’s world-class cannabis farmers could legally sell their crop to patients and connoisseurs in other states thanks to a new bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom today (September 18).
Senate Bill 1326 adds a new chapter to the Business and Professions code that gives the state Governor new powers to sign pot trade agreements with other legal weed states. The catch? The changes won’t take effect unless federal law or policy changes. Marijuana remains a federally illegal schedule 1 drug deemed as dangerous and medically useless as heroin or LSD.
Other states are also moving to enact similar bills, giving their Governors the power to sign interstate pot trade deals. Oregon passed one in 2019.
Gov. Newsom’s signed nine other cannabis-centric bills in sync with SB 1326. A press release from the Governor’s office describes the 10 new bills as follows:
AB 1706 by Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) – Cannabis crimes: resentencing.
AB 1646 by Assemblymember Phillip Chen (R-Yorba Linda) – Cannabis packaging: beverages.
AB 1885 by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) – Cannabis and cannabis products: animals: veterinary medicine.
AB 1894 by Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-Arleta) – Integrated cannabis vaporizer: packaging, labeling, advertisement, and marketing.
AB 2210 by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) – Cannabis: state temporary event licenses: venues licensed by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control: unsold inventory.
AB 2188 by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) – Discrimination in employment: use of cannabis.
AB 2568 by Assemblymember Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) – Cannabis: insurance providers.
AB 2925 by Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) – California Cannabis Tax Fund: spending reports.
SB 1186 by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) – Medicinal Cannabis Patients’ Right of Access Act.
SB 1326 by Senator Anna Caballero (D-Merced) – Cannabis: interstate agreements.
Why do we need interstate cannabis commerce?
Because consumers benefit from price and choice competition in a free market where states can specialize in producing what they are good at.
Americans consume roughly 10,000 to 13,000 metric tons of marijuana every year, and we think only about 27% of it is supplied legally. The 14 states with recreational sales cannot transfer supplies across borders to meet out-of-state demand.
In California, pot supplies have backed up due to local store bans, creating a retail bottleneck. For example, Los Angeles has less than one-tenth the dispensaries per capita as the medical marijuana state Oklahoma.
California farmers will now be able to sell and ship their world-class weed to states where more stores are open.
Arguing in support, sponsors the Rural County Representatives of California state, “Without considerable market expansion as part of the solution to stabilize the legal industry and incentivize participation in the regulated market, California risks the collapse of portions of the legal industry, particularly for rural producing regions, which could lead to considerable expansion of the illicit market and dire economic impacts to local economies.”
“SB 1326 provides a relief valve for the oversupply of cannabis, an opportunity to grow California’s brand and market share, support job creation, and gives the state a competitive advantage as federal policy develops.” the bill’s author states.
Legislative analyses listed no opposition on file.
How far away is full scale interstate commerce in cannabis?
It’s not clear how long it will take other states to follow California’s lead. It could be years or more than a decade if the rate of past progress is any indication.
More than 90% of Americans support medical marijuana, and Congress has not legalized medical pot yet. Even with adult-use legalization polls around 60%.
President Biden intends to decriminalize cannabis. Several bills in Congress have advanced the idea, but none have made it to the White House for signing.
Even with federal action, states would likely move to protect their licensed farmers from the superior quality and lower prices of legal pot from the world’s biggest producer, California. For example, Florida, Illinois, and Massachusetts growers might seek state protection from cheaper, better California growers.
Historically, California has led the market in weed quality, price, and product innovation. California strain development has run months, if not years, ahead of East Coast states. That paradigm promises to continue as cannabis gets more legal.
“Licensed businesses that have put everything on the line to enter the legal industry can’t afford to wait for federal legalization to provide California cannabis to other legal markets…”
—Cannabis Distribution Association
“SB 1326 is an essential step to ensure that California can fully capitalize on, and remain a leader in, the forthcoming national cannabis market. Furthermore, SB 1326 would allow California to use its own labor, environmental, and product quality standards be adopted in other states,” the bill’s author states.
Some experts say more interstate commerce could happen soon. Watchers hope the federal judiciary branch uses aspects of the Constitution—the dormant commerce clause—to allow interstate commerce via a ruling.
“Traditionally, the interstate commerce clause has been interpreted to grant Congress a positive authority to regulate commerce and an implied prohibition against states regulating, interfering with, or discriminating against interstate commerce. Despite the current state of federal law and its enforcement, the Interstate Commerce Clause remains an important issue to note in the context of this bill,” states the bill’s Senate floor analysis states.
The Cannabis Distribution Association said the clock is ticking on the viability of cannabis companies without free trade.
Why does Northern California’s craft cannabis face potential ruin?
“Licensed businesses that have put everything on the line to enter the legal industry can’t afford to wait for federal legalization to provide California cannabis to other legal markets, especially markets that traditionally import agricultural products from California to supply their retail shelves, where thousands of medical patients and adult-use consumers need access to high-quality cannabis and cannabis products. Initiating interstate commerce now rather than potentially waiting years for federal legalization would benefit both producer and consumer states, as well as patients, consumers, small and social equity businesses, and the environment.”
One of the first cannabis free trade blocks to watch might be the west coast states, or perhaps Nevada.
Mike DeLao’s love for cooking grew organically, in his grandmother’s kitchen where she made fresh tortillas every morning. This sense of community stayed with him as he grew up and went out into the world.
At 18, DeLao went off to college and had a culinary epiphany while partying with his friends, telling Leafly, “I realized that I was only caring about cooking for my friends at six in the morning; not really caring about the party all night.”
After this late-night revelation, DeLao decided to take a chance and change his major. In 2000, he joined Orange Coast College, a top 10 culinary school in Costa Mesa, California.
“It was just like trial by fire and learn, learn, learn,” says DeLao. On the cusp of graduation three years later, he got his first job as a chef in a fine dining restaurant, and later picked up a second gig at a raw food restaurant. But about three years in, Chef DeLao pinched a nerve in his back from the hard labor in the kitchens.
While doctors prescribed him a plethora of prescription medications, one day he saw an ad that would change his trajectory.
“Chronic back pain? Come get the chronic,” it said.
Mike DeLao meets edibles
DeLao had been a casual, social cannabis consumer up until that point, but he wanted to get off the strong meds his doctor had prescribed. He inquired about cannabis, but his asthma posed a problem.
The obvious solution from there? Edibles. He got a medical recommendation in 2003 and found one rather hush-hush clinic in California to supply him. But the baked goods of 20 years were a far cry from what consumers can buy today.
“I just bought whatever I could, all the cookies he had, every single one, and they were horrible! They tasted so bad, and it wasn’t that the cannabis tasted bad; it’s that they weren’t made correctly. The sugars weren’t built up right, the butters weren’t whipped right. Just procedurally, the cookie wasn’t made correctly. Someone for sure was throwing all the ingredients in the pots and mixing.”
Edibles 101: How to consume edibles, benefits, effects, & more
Rather than letting this sully his first experience with medical edibles, DeLao saw these disappointing cookies as an opportunity.
“It took about two months of begging and buying all those cookies to say, I will make the cookies for free, just pay me in cookies and let me fix them.”
The proprietor, the late Steven Lawrence, agreed and became what DeLao calls his “first mentor” in the cannabis world.
“He took me in, and he was so serious about sick people. It was always about his son who had muscular dystrophy. We were gonna help the sick; it wasn’t just making cookies to make money.”
How Jack Herer changed Mike’s life
In 2008, DeLao attended the NORML conference in Berkley, and met the emperor of cannabis himself, Jack Herer.
“He was in the booth next to me. I knew he had a strain named after him, and I thought I should give this guy some of my cookies. So, of course, I go over there, and I try to give him cookies, and he says, ‘I’m a diabetic. I can’t eat any of your stuff. Nothing you have is medicine.’”
Herer’s words massively impacted DeLao. He went back to Lawrence and together they began making a sugar-free line for their collective.
What is Rick Simpson Oil? Your complete guide to RSO
DeLao stayed in touch with Herer and his wife Jeanie, and they introduced DeLao to Rick Simpson Oil. Jeanie convinced DeLao to start providing RSO to patients so he could understand how it helped people in real-time. Today, he continues to use it in recipes and inform other’s about how he’s seen RSO change lives.
Today, DeLao continues his mission of listening to patients and learning from them. He develops recipes for individuals and their needs, whether it’s a patient with no teeth in need of soft food, or another with specific dietary restrictions.
It’s still difficult for him not to want to give cannabis away to those that need it most, and leave money out of the equation.
In the meantime, Chef DeLao says he is leaning into his age as a cannabis veteran, and getting back to his “pachuco days,” to make himself the most “interesting man in cannabis” while working on several new projects.
He continues to cook with cannabis oil, developing healthy recipes with whole foods, raw foods, and complimentary healing ingredients for a fully holistic approach.
“I just want people to remember that there’s sick people out there. It’s cool to have flashy products and large dabs, but there’s someone right now that is lying in their bed who can’t even eat food; if you just gave them a little help or gave them a free cookie, then you would change their life. Some of them are all alone, and they need somebody to care about them. The whole point of this whole thing was always to worry about those people.”
Chef Mike DeLao
Chef Mike’s peanut budder cookies
Mike is known for being a versatile chef who can make delicious goodies with or without sugar. For Leafly, he provided a tasty peanut budder cookie recipe that includes the sweet stuff. Modify this recipe and substitute as necessary if you have peanut allergies, diabetes, or other serious health considerations.
Rae Lland is a freelance writer, journalist, and former editor for Weedist and The Leaf Online. With a focus on culture, music, health, and wellness, in addition to her work for Leafly, she has also been featured in numerous online cannabis publications as well as print editions of Cannabis Now Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @rae.lland
Eduardo Whittington just applied for a license to make cannabis products in his home state of New Jersey. Here’s how he got here, and what’s next.
Eduardo Whittington, aka Eddie Lobo, has been in the weed game for almost a decade. In 2014, he became the third employee on Puffco’s start-up team, playing an integral role in the development of the iconic brand as Creative Director. Whittington now runs his own multi-state company, Lobo Cannagar, and hopes to receive a license to manufacture cannabis products in his home state of New Jersey’s adult-use market.
Lobo Cannagar is a highly-regarded pre-roll company offering products in Canada and four legal states (Arizona, California, Oregon, and Michigan). Whittington and Lobo co-founder Aaron Raskin partner with licensed cultivators and retailers in each legal territory to produce hand-rolled joints and blunts that smoke the competition.
Whittington, who works as creative director of Lobo, has also worked on media, licensing, and manufacturing operations for national and multinational brands like Natura. Along the way, he’s built a reputation as a connector and executor across the industry.
Leafly caught up with Whittington earlier this year for toke-and-talk sessions at the Natura facility in Sacramento and in his native New Jersey as he prepared to apply for a state license. During our time with this pot culture pioneer, we grabbed a zip of wisdom from his journey to share with other aspiring cannabis operators.
1. Own your narrative
Whittington’s superpower isn’t growing or selling weed. It’s storytelling. His visionary nature is on full display on Lobo’s social media page, which features some of the industry’s finest visuals and campaigns. His creative skillset was a key part of his foundational work at Puffco. And it’s essential to Lobo’s business model. Cultivators and retailers who partner with Whittington know that his products will exceed expectations from promo to package to puff.
2. Adapt to the market
Lobo Cannagar’s business model is unique for a multinational operation. The company doesn’t grow cannabis or sell it out of their own stores. Instead, it partners with the best possible operators in each market to collaborate on hand-rolled bangers that leave an impression on whoever hits them.
“I run my business this way because there is no national cannabis yet,” Whittington explained. “Each state has its own kind of rules and regulations, like a fiefdom with little lords ruling over their states,” he explained.” The fractured industry presented a lane for Lobo to become a non-plant touching business that glides across borders with relative ease. As more markets come online, the model should continue to thrive.
3. Plant solid roots
Whittington’s deep relationships in New Jersey and New York are coming back to help his campaign for a license. His top reason for expanding to The Garden State is to pour the knowledge and success he’s gained from legal weed back into his own community.
As a LatinX applicant, and longtime participant in the legacy market, his top goal is to become a springboard for others to access the budding legal market. Whittington personally witnessed the fallout from the failed War on Drugs, and strongly agrees with the state’s choice to give impacted residents a chance to participate in the legal industry.
4. Pay it forward
Whittington said he always aims to “pay it forward in business.” The practice has built strong networks in both the legal and traditional markets. He told Leafly he intends for his NJ operation to provide resources, training, and job opportunities for the communities that raised him. And he can’t wait to give back to fellow legacy providers who weren’t able to break into the industry in its infancy like he did.
5. Partner wisely
Lobo’s main partner in California is Natura. The cultivation company runs a massive grow in Sacramento with automated facilities that pump out 5,000 pounds of flower per week. Plus, there’s a creative campus that regularly unites some of the brightest minds in cannabis.
6. Study your craft
Whittington compares Natura’s headquarters to a finishing school for ganjapreneurs.
“Natura is a massive weed finishing school where you can bring your pothead dreams to reality. It’s a big ass campus and collectively we work to kick butt and sell blunts.”
7. Collaborate constantly
According to Whittington, the best part of partnering with Natura is the collaboration that happens behind the scenes. Brainstorming sessions in the main office could include international investors scouting the industry, Leafly team members trying not to eat too many Dee Thai edibles, and trailblazers like Eddie and Natura VP Josh Kuhn mapping out the future of the industry.
8. Passion is the secret ingredient
“We’re all passionate about the plant,” Whittington says. “We wanna make great products and we love our jobs. We have to be here. Because this is a new industry. You can’t cookie-cut solutions. So having a good group who can think on their feet, who are hustlers, and scrappy, and down to get it out of the mud, that gives you that confidence that you can keep pushing through your adversities. If you get to work with people who are as passionate about what they work on, you’ve got a recipe for success.”
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9. Scale until you’re a whale
Another reason that Lobo’s California partnership has flourished is the scale Natura offers its collaborators. “A partner that can help you through the scaling aspects of your business is paramount,” Whittington explained.
Lobo also plans to raise more capital and build value in other states until a larger MSO or non-plant-touching company makes a Godfather offer. “We’re trying to close the Series A and really turn this into a company worthy of proper acquisition,” Whittington told me.
“The barrier to entry is low right now. People can go out and build brands and gain an audience on their own. That’s where I’m focused. Just making sure I can put a good thing in people’s hands long term. I do have an exit strategy, you know, like an LVMH [Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton]. There’s gonna be an LVMH in weed, right?”
10. Free the wolf
For Whittington, nurturing Lobos into a successful business “is like having a pet wolf.”
“It’s super cool when it’s a puppy, but then one day it needs to go to the sanctuary,” he explained. “One day, it might get big to the point where you’re like, all right, man, I gotta send you out to the farm.”
If the wolf analogy doesn’t translate, Whittington has another reason why he’s open to selling Lobo one day:
11. Presentation is key
“So many businesses in our industry miss the importance of packaging and branding. It’s the first thing we see, because we’re hyper visual creatures,” Whittington said. He loves “touchpoints,” like colors on a package, which he chooses based on the feelings he knows a product will evoke.
His gift for visual communication is best displayed in Lobo’s presentation. From the artwork and packaging, to glass mouthpieces that come in their cigars, Lobo strives for every product to hit like it was pearled by Snoop’s personal roller.
“In a perfect world, your outside package is reflective of what the inside is,” Whittington said. Lobo doesn’t just provide a pretty look. Each pre-roll comes packed with powerful flower from local partners. “I want to highlight all of the interesting vibes and tonalities of this plant, and by extension, the packaging, gives us,” he told me. “It’s an awesome medium for expression and communicating. Everyone likes a nice shiny box.”
12. Profit comes from problem solving
Decades on the illicit market have taught the Lobo crew that weed sells itself. So the best sellers aim to problem solve, instead of slick talking or number crunching.
“I’ve always felt that profits are a byproduct of energy well spent,” Whittington told me. “Profit shouldn’t be where my first focus should be as a business owner. Doing things that have an impact and doing things you’d actually be proud of. That is what’s most important to me.”
“I wouldn’t wanna put out anything that I wouldn’t wanna smoke. That’s a sustainable model for me. So I wanna wake up, work with people I love to work with, and smoke great weed. I am proud to add value to people around me. This is all a gift. So I’m just happy to be here.”
13. Pay homage to the pioneers
14. Strive to leave a mark
“Being in the industry this early in its lifespan,” he added, “you really get a first player advantage. Because there is no old way of doing it. And that always kind of psyches me up creatively. In my past design work, I might have a liquor company that I’m hired to do branding for. And there’s really only so much you can do, because it’s all been done. But how often in our civilization, do times like this come around where it is truly the first time someone is doing their thing?”
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15. Go global
Whittington told me he doesn’t think Americans and Canadians should be the only people with access to great legal cannabis. “I want to bring a mature deployment of resources and skills to the international market,” he said. Lobo is currently seeking “solid operators and trustworthy brands so they can work on meeting new enthused people overseas.”
16. Claim your name
What’s in a name? Whittington admits he just liked the way Lobo Cannagars sounded, and that it hinted at his LatinX roots. “I wanted a Spanish name, and I love wolves and dogs,” he told me. Lobo is another name for Mexican wolves. “I saw a cool ass poster for some old shit called the Lobo King of Mexico. I was like, ‘That’s hard!’”
17. Break the mold
Whittington didn’t grow up in a cannabis household. “That was a definite no-no, and a great way for me to be out in the streets,” he said. Until recently, his family didn’t understand why he chose to work in weed.
“It wasn’t until two years ago that my grandmother stopped asking, ‘So, when are you gonna get a real job?’”
Whittington admitted, “It kind of hurts. But, it is what it is. They see the world through their lenses, which were shaped by their times.”
18. Fill a hole in the market
“We started in 2017, pre-legalization in California,” Whittington told me. “Those pre-Prop 215 days were wild,” he said of the era when countless new weed businesses were sprouting in The Golden State.
19. Keep it blunt
“I’m an East Coast head,” said Whittington. “As much as I love dabs and concentrates, I’m a blunt smoker. Everyone I know, including my girl, is one. But I always wanted a better Backwood for my blunts. So Lobo came from the fact that nothing really existed at that time for just good weed that’s already rolled.”
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20. Offer unforgettable experiences
“The blunt, to me, is the essence of independence,” Whittington said. “I definitely remember my first blunt, just like the first time you asked out a shorty and she said yes. So to me, every blunt is an experience. All the rituals that came with it pre-legalization are different now. But that feeling remains.”
Whittington has another theory on why blunts hold special meaning in his community. “I think blunts are synonymous with young adults on the East Coast,” he said. “It comes from not having the privilege to ride around with a pipe in your car or keep a bong in your room. We used to take those L-rides in the car or go for a long walk so that when we were done, there was no evidence. No paraphernalia. Pipes are a privilege.”
21. Cater to the cannaseurs
Whittington compares the weed industry to a younger version of the wine market. With Natura helping meet demand for up to 50,000 products a month, Whittington can focus on quality control. He looks at viticulture (wine growing) as a guide.
“How do you make a hundred thousand products a month, and it all be good? From the soil that it came from, there is all this planning that goes into how wine is produced. And people really pride themselves on understanding all of those kind of nuances. That same thing exists in cannabis.”
22. The power of relativity
“Always remember that you can course correct,” Whittington said. “You can change your path to your goals, or even set a new goal. Success for you is not success for someone else. Success is relative. So understand yourself and what your goals are, don’t be influenced by someone else’s idea of success. That’s when you end up going in circles with no destination.”
His clearly defined goal helps him chart Lobo’s path around the world. “I just wanna put out a really good product,” he said. “That goal leads me to understand how to get to register in all these new states. I want to do the work to lock in my licensing, because it’s a required step to reach my goal. So set your goal and just keep moving towards the target.”
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23. Jack be nimble
Whittington said you have to be “nimble to wade the risky waters” of legal cannabis. He said he loved the challenge, but it’s not easy.
24. Know your audience
Whittington admires the “out of the trunk” energy that brands like Cookies and Runtz have brought to the industry. “[Runtz co-founder] Yung LB knows his demographic, and it’s not soccer moms,” he explained. “That’s why they have lines around the corner and the corporations can’t get that brand loyalty.”
Whittington said he can’t wait for the law to permit more touchpoints for consumers to hold onto. “We haven’t even done the cool shit yet,” he said. “People have so much of their identity wrapped up into all these products and companies. Like if you’re drinking a certain champagne and driving a Mercedes, the feelings you paid for were cultivated. It was the people who made those goods and advertisements. So imagine the national ads for weed. The Budweiser frogs of weed.”
25. Find peace in the plant
In legal weed, there’s no law against getting high on your own supply. And over the years, Whittington has grown a deep bond with the plant, which he said boosts his mental and physical health.
He initially used cannabis to break out of a pharmaceutical rollercoaster. After being prescribed different medications over the years, weed helped him reset.
“I feel like homeostasis is achieved through consumption of this plant,” he told me. “It helps me maintain perspective. It helps me just take a breath and meditate and reflect. I definitely find that the plant makes me less reactive to things. I’m a little high strung. So for me, it just turns the world from an 11 to like an eight.”
26. Meet people where they are
“Since Lobo is a cannabis experience company,” he said, “I want to help curate how people interact with this plant. I study each market we enter and try to serve the different versions of smokers in the area. Starting with our Minis pre-roll packs, which are our little half gram joints. But we also have seven half gram joints. 7-8 of those is a really convenient and cost-efficient option for a lot of people. So I want to meet the consumer where they are with products that make their experience easier.”
From the glass tips (no soggy joints!) to the diverse portion sizes, Whittington says every detail is chosen with the end-user in mind. Along with the Minis, he added that they offer: “1-gram iterations and full size, two-and-a-half-gram hand-rolled blunts.”
27. Study intentions: Yours and others
Whittington said he can’t wait for federal laws to change so he can go vertical. But he doesn’t have much faith in those tasked with making that happen. “Their intentions might be good,” he said of the lawmakers currently working on legalization. “But they’re policy people,” he explained. “They’re not practice people. None of them gave a thought to weed until they absolutely had to.”
In the meantime, Whittington is staying intentional about the elements of his business he can control. That includes infusing his trademark enthusiasm into every element of the operation.
28. The journey is worth it
If you’re in the game for overnight success, kindly head for the exit. Whittington said the industry will be won by those who stay present and enjoy the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur in an emerging industry.