Now What? The Ramification of Pot’s Passage in the Cannabis Capital







California voters made history on November 8, 2016 by approving the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). AUMA’s passage means that Californians 21 years and older may use recreational marijuana. However, California will continue to heavily regulate marijuana, as the 62-page Act contains numerous restrictions and timelines which affect both businesses and consumers.

For starters, AUMA’s passage does not mean that recreational marijuana is immediately accessible by all adults 21 years and older. In fact, recreational marijuana stores will not open in California until January 1, 2018. Once allowed, recreational sales will be subject to a 15% excise tax. In the meantime, California’s medical marijuana dispensaries may not sell marijuana to individuals without a doctor’s recommendation. However, AUMA does immediately allow adults 21 years and older to possess and transport, within California, up to one ounce of marijuana and, subject to local ordinances, grow up to 6 plants in their own residences.

AUMA’s passage does not mean that Californians can use recreational marijuana publicly. Under AUMA, no one may smoke marijuana in places where state law prohibits tobacco use or within 1,000 feet of a school, day-care center or youth center while children are present. Those who fail to abide by this restriction could face a fine of up to $250. Californians also may not smoke marijuana in public places unless specifically allowed by a local ordinance. Doing so can result in a $100 fine.

Finally, much like the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA), California’s medical marijuana framework set to take effect in 2018, AUMA has a detailed licensing scheme for marijuana businesses. AUMA has 19 types of licenses, which include 13 different types of cultivation licenses, two types of manufacturing license, a testing license, a distributor license, a retail license and a microbusiness license. All licensees must use a seed-to-sale traceability system to record their transactions. The MCRSA tasks The Bureau of Marijuana Control with licensure. Under AUMA, selling marijuana without a license can result in a misdemeanor charge, with penalties of up to $500 in fines and six months in jail. Additionally, any unlicensed sale of marijuana will result in civil penalties of up to three times the cost of licensure.

Marijuana businesses must strictly comply with AUMA to take advantage of the Act’s profitability potential. To do so, these businesses can benefit from of compliance, merchant service and cash management platforms like PayQwick, whose comprehensive compliance assessment programs incorporate all applicable federal and state laws, regulations and guidelines to ensure that marijuana businesses operate legally. While the full effects of AUMA will not be known until 2018, it is clear that its success depends upon compliance.


PayQwick Aims to Be The PayPal of Pot


Piles of cash.

It’s often one of the biggest challenges for a marijuana company.

By law, customers can’t use credit cards to buy marijuana, and banks won’t open accounts for cannabusinesses because they are federally illegal. For the most part, customers pay with cash, stores compensate employees and pay suppliers with stacks of cash, and farmers pay for their utilities and lawyers with bundles of cash.

Entrepreneurs Keith Marks and Kenneth Berke, both California attorneys, have come up with a financial technology solution — a “closed loop” payment system that allows businesses to pay bills and collect payments electronically. It’s like the PayPal of Pot. Store owners, processors, and growers can take money out of their bank accounts and put it in the PayQwick system which will send invoices, transfer money electronically and write checks for payments. Then they can transfer money out of PayQwick and back into their bank accounts.

PayQwick can offer this service by taking on the legal financial compliance role. The company is vetting the finances of legal marijuana businesses, visiting quarterly to make sure the marijuana companies are complying with state regulations, and following the funds from seed to sale as required by law. The company performs Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering compliance, know-your-customer and transaction due diligence, and files currency transaction and suspicious activity reports.

Once the compliance regulations are met, marijuana money is considered “bankable” according to Berke. “We’re a cash management solution.”

The founders have worked with marijuana and banking regulators in Washington, Oregon and Colorado to register federally as a money service business, and obtain a state-issued money transmitter license in each state where one is required. As marijuana is legalized in more states, the company plans to enter any market where seed to sale traceability is available.

Some credit unions and community banks do offer accounts for marijuana businesses, but many are exploring the process slowly, and taking on just a few customers. Most still don’t want it known that they are serving the industry.

At the end of 2015, the two community banks working with PayQwick in Washington State underwent their FDIC safety and soundness exams. In the end, both were allowed to keep operating with the PayQwick system. “If the FDIC had found a problem, we wouldn’t be in business right now,” said Berke.

The company says it currently has 169 active businesses on its system, 55 more in the pipeline, and has issued 1200 consumer cards that customers can use for cashless payment. Ten employees manage the software, working to integrate PayQwick with Quickbooks, seed to sale software, and other business systems the industry is using.

All stakeholders want a more secure, transparent payment system with less cash floating around, said Berke. The government prefers electronic payments because they are easier to monitor, according to Berke, and cannabusinesses are looking for greater security. “It’s just not safe for employees to be carrying around large amounts of cash as they drive around the state paying vendors or delivering goods.”

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Wine and cheese, sangria and chips and now cannabis and beer…what a delightful pair.

Who even knew that there was pot-infused beer? Well now you know and it is all the rage. Terpenes, which are found in varying degrees in cannabis offers many health benefits and is responsible for the smell and flavor. Terpenes are found in hops that are used in the fermentation process as well as the flavor process to create beer.

“The similarities between cannabis and hops can lead to some beers exhibiting a rich, dank or skunky aroma reminiscent of fine cannabis.”

Craft beer entrepreneurs in Colorado are cashing in on the infused alcohol business. Dad & Dudes Breweria got federal approval of their beer, General Washington’s Secret Stash, which contains cannabis sativa extracts.

“General Washington’s Secret Stash is classified as an industrial hemp, meaning it contains no THC – the compound responsible for psychoactive feelings caused when smoking or partaking any form of marijuana. Dad and Dudes’ brand takes extractions from cannabis sativa stalks and stems, which are known for their non-psychoactive cannabinoids, and mixes the compound into the brew. Cannabis Sativa also is in the same genus – Cannabaceae – as Humulus Lupulus, or hops.”

Co-owner, Mason Hembree was on local Colorado 9 News promoting his craft beer and his Kickstarter donation page to raise the necessary funds to get his project off the ground. His goal is to get General Washington’s Secret Stash available across the country by the New Year. Well, lets hop to it and help this guy out!

Just in case you cant find an infused beer, has a great flavor-pairing guide, which can be found here: Just grab a pint and a joint and have a great night!