CVIndependent

Sat10192019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Sean Planck

The Internet and social media have, in many ways, broadened communication and given us all other venues for self-expression—but the stigma still attached to cannabis can hamper a marijuana enthusiast’s online activity.

Case in point: Facebook has long had a ban on cannabis advertising—and as of Feb. 6, began shutting down dispensary pages.

Pot-smokers have often thought of themselves as their own society, so why shouldn’t we have our own social media? Here are a few apps that have answered that question with: “We agree! Here you go!”

Weedmaps

www.weedwaps.com; IOS, Android

Weedmaps got into the cannabis social-media game early, and has been the go-to solution for smokers to find cannabis, and for dispensaries to promote their wares. Users can also post reviews of dispensaries. Basically, it’s like Yelp for cannabis.

The app/website lists thousands of dispensaries across the country. The app and the website both offer geolocation services to tell you the nearest place to pick up some smoke, along with reviews and menus of dispensaries’ current offerings and deals. Launched in 2008, the site now boasts more than 2 million visitors per month.

Leafly

www.leafly.com; IOS, Android

Weedmaps spent many years alone at the top of the 420-app heap, but Leafly is now giving Weedmaps some competition. Leafly has the same dispensary-locating functionality, but focuses much more on specific strains of cannabis: The site includes many strain reviews, and the database includes thousands of strains, searchable by category, flavor, effects, a patient’s symptoms and known conditions. Users can read and post reviews, and find out if a strain is available nearby.

Another very cool feature is the State of the Leaf interactive map: Click on any state, and get the current status of that state’s cannabis laws. Leafly also includes a section of cannabis-related news and articles on topics like current legislation, health and lifestyle.

Duby

www.duby.co; IOS, Android

With Facebook prohibiting more and more cannabis content, there has been a definite gap in social-media options for cannabis enthusiasts. How many times have you tried a really outstanding strain, and just wanted to shout it out to the world (i.e., you know, post it on Facebook)? Enter Duby. Posts are referred to as “dubys.” Like a duby? Pass it by swiping right! Don’t like it? Swipe left to “put it out.” Cute.

Duby is the most-popular online community for potheads, offering all the features of FB without the judgment and prying eyes of those who have not seen the light.

MassRoots

www.massroots.com; IOS, Android

If Duby is the Facebook of cannabis culture, MassRoots is its Instagram. The interface is exactly what you’d expect from something known as the Instagram of weed—filled with pictures of cannabis, and your boss isn’t your “bud.” (That’s MassRoots’ term for connections.)

The result of a marijuana-infused brainstorm between the two founders in 2013, MassRoots has enjoyed amazing growth. The community now boasts more than 775,000 users—more than double the membership six months ago. Founders expect to reach 1 million by 4/20.

Said MassRoots CEO Isaac Dietrich in a news release: “The weeks leading up to 4/20 are the cannabis industry’s holiday season—a period where millions of cannabis enthusiasts make purchases, buy tickets, and make plans for marijuana’s official holiday. Historically, during the weeks leading up to 4/20, we have experienced significantly higher growth and visibility.”

MassRoots will only benefit from Facebook’s move to further restrict marijuana-related pages, and is becoming a valuable advertising alternative to Facebook for weed businesses. MassRoots also made history as the first marijuana-tech company to go public, in April 2015. According to the MassRoots website, the business hopes to uplist to NASDAQ or the NYSE before the end of 2016.

I’m buying stock tomorrow!

The next time you’re looking for a dispensary, or you just want to show off a favorite strain, your garden or a new bubbler—without your great aunt putting on her Judgy McJudge hat—post away! There are entire online societies just for our tribe!


On a Sad Note

The Coachella Valley cannabis community lost a treasured member on Feb. 15 when Steven Cooley—cannabis evangelist, budtender extraordinaire and manager of PSA Organica in Palm Springs—passed away suddenly while dining with friends.

Steven radiated positive energy like a bright light, and has helped countless people find the correct strain or medication for what ails them. A long-time HIV patient and stroke survivor, Steven attributed his continued existence on this plane to his use of cannabis in its many forms.

Steven was a true believer, a great friend and a wonderful human being. You will be truly and sorely missed, my friend.

In lieu of flowers or cards, please make a donation in Steven’s name to the Desert AIDS Project.

The legalization of cannabis for medicinal and now recreational use is crashing across the country like a bong-water tsunami. That means herb is in the news lately—a lot.

Here in California, some of that news is not good.

Assembly Bill 243—part of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October—is causing many cities to clamp down on cannabis businesses. While the bill contains a lot of good, it has a problem: The MMRSA requires local governments to develop regulations for the cultivation and delivery of medical cannabis by March 1. Otherwise, the authority is relinquished to the state. Not wanting to give up that authority, dozens of cities around the state have been enacting all-out bans, denying their patients convenient access to prescribed medications.

This is unfortunate, especially since the provision was never meant to be included in the final legislation.

“It was never our intention to place such a short timeline on local lawmakers,” said Democratic Assemblyman Jim Wood, one of the bill’s proponents, in a news release. “The current deadline gives jurisdictions just 65 more days to consult stakeholders, learn about the industry, and write good policy; that is not nearly enough time.”

Wood is now one of the sponsors of Assembly Bill 21, which is currently in committee but is expected to pass and be signed into law without issue. AB 21 strikes the March 1 deadline, allowing local jurisdictions to regulate and enact their own laws at their own pace. “We have widespread support for this fix, including bi-partisan support from both houses, stakeholders and the governor’s office. I am hoping that AB 21 will be on the governor’s desk before the end of the month, and local lawmakers will give this complicated issue the time it deserves,” said Wood.

Despite the impending fix, the League of California Cities is recommending mass hysteria. Because, you know, caution.

“In an abundance of caution, we have been advising our member cities to enact cultivation ordinances—in this case, a ban—to make sure they preserve their regulatory authority whether the cleanup bill goes through or not,” said Tim Cromartie, the legislative representative for the League of California Cities, to the Los Angeles Times. “A ban is the quickest and cleanest way.”

Great.

So how has that affected the Coachella Valley? While some of our valley cities have been working toward their own marijuana regulations diligently for years, others believed the hype and have reacted with fear and rejection.

Palm Springs, being one of the more progressive areas in the valley, has historically been at the forefront of the cannabis movement. The city recently approved a sixth dispensary permit, and council members have said they’d be open to increasing this number in the future as public need and opinion dictate. Recent City Council meetings have also included the discussion of permitting for commercial grows, edible production and extract production. The council members made it clear they want to be prepared to reap the financial rewards of legalization of recreational use statewide—which most people believe is inevitable, perhaps as soon as this year’s election.

Cathedral City is following the example set by Palm Springs, and has issued several permits in recent months. Indicative of the hurdles involved with this emerging industry, the first dispensary in Cathedral City opened its doors in October, more than a year after the council approved the permit allowing them to operate in the city.

If Palm Springs is the tortoise in this race—carefully planning next steps and moving along at an organic pace—cash-strapped Desert Hot Springs is surely the hare: DHS wants to be a mecca of marijuana production and cultivation. It is the first city in the state to approve massive industrial-grow operations, including a recently approved 380,000-square-foot facility that will generate an estimated $3.8 million in annual tax revenues for the city. Grows of this magnitude are expected to be a rarity in the wake of AB 243’s canopy limit of 10,000 square feet for most facilities.

While Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Desert Hot Springs are working in anticipation of recreational legalization and the revenue streams that will represent, Rancho Mirage has dug its heels in like a child being dragged to the dentist. However, the city’s resistance to the green rush predates the panic caused by AB 243. The city even has a program to reimburse cannabis patients $25 per month for transportation to buy their cannabis elsewhere. It bears noting that no one has taken them up on the offer since the program’s inception. It’s doubtful any cannabis businesses of any kind will be operating in Rancho Mirage anytime soon, regardless of any state legislation.

In January, Palm Desert looked like it would pass an all-out ban on cannabis cultivation and distribution. Then, after hearing from several residents at the Jan. 14 meeting, the council changed the language to allow delivery services to operate in the city. This is great news for Palm Desert cannabis patients who are unable to travel easily.

Indian Wells doubled down on its rejection of cannabis in January, adding delivery and cultivation to its existing ban on dispensaries in the city.

La Quinta has a similar ban in place, but formed an ad hoc committee in December to examine allowing delivery services to operate in the city.

Indio has had a ban on dispensaries in place since 2007, and recently expanded that ban to cultivation. Because, you know, Indio has a reputation to uphold. The City Council is, however, considering regulations for delivery services to operate there.

Coachella recently broke from its long-time ban on all marijuana businesses by approving cultivation in areas of the city that are zoned for auto-wrecking. The approval is seen as a fairly cynical way for the city to reap the tax benefits of the cash crop, and nothing more, because the ban on delivery and storefront dispensaries remains.

AB 243 was meant to stabilize the cannabis industry in California, yet it ended up severely handicapping the cannabis movement with its errant March 1 deadline. Hopefully cities will be as willing to enact meaningful, well-planned regulation once the threat of that deadline has been removed by AB 21.

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