GCM Roundup | May 26, 2021
I hope to meet some of y’all at CannaCon this week. I’d say look for a tall, white, kinda hipster-looking dude in Vans and a cheap, gray Target blazer. But probably look for my faded, old jean jacket instead. It’ll be nice to not have to dress as stiffly as I once had to as a reporter at not-weed professional conferences. I may even wear my Green Bloc shirt:
When I used to report on cops and homeland security, I would beg my editors at the Center for Investigative Reporting to pay for me to go to regional and national homeland security and police conferences. The reason is because they brimmed with scoops. I got endless leads and sources out of them.
I’d set my alarm and iron my shirts at the hotel the night before. Look sharp but not too flashy. NEVER miss the early sessions when you’re a reporter at the cop conferences. Listen closely. Take notes. Invite but don’t force opportunities to talk to cops, attorneys, felons, or all three at once off the record, or on the record.
Trust but verify.
I broke stories around license-plate readers and high-altitude police surveillance in Compton, California, by just listening and doing my homework. Go here to see the Los Angeles Times getting the holy hell scooped out of them by me and my old reporting partner in 2014.
Mercifully, cannabis doesn’t keep rigid, military hours for the most part. I can sleep in a little for weed conferences.
See y’all there.
Y’all are big time and know everything there is to know about running a weed business after three whole years of it in Oklahoma. But just in case, write Murphy’s Law in ruby-red lipstick on your bathroom mirror:
“If it can go wrong, it will go wrong.”
“But my boy said I had all my taxes done!”
Your boy was wrong. Trust but verify.
My plan for years was to be a journalist and actually get paid to do it for the duration of my career and retire someday with a small garden, and bird feeders, and stray cats and dogs, on a few acres at the edge of Tulsa County.
I envisioned my dusty, old book-and-record collections resting in dark-wood shelves I built with pals. I envisioned a lightly screened back porch through which I could see, hear, smell, and feel my absolute favorite thing in the entire world: Oklahoma thunderstorms.
I envisioned retiring in my beloved home state as a cranky, old journalist and obnoxiously opinionated scholar who smoked Oklahoma-grown weed and tobacco from old-man pipes, wore stuffy but vaguely handsome cardigans purchased from thrift stores, taught night classes at the local community college, drove a well-rated, sensible Subaru with a “Magic City Books” sticker on the rear window, and contributed modestly to my local NPR affiliate twice a year.
But alas, I started training for a new job in the Oklahoma weed industry this week. I’m nervous but hopeful. GCM has hella student loans from grad school that are hounding him. I haven’t bought new socks in years. I’m wearing pink, candy-striped socks right now that one of my nieces left in my car five years ago when I lived in Austin.
I’m selling some flower through this new job at insane prices per pound, because it has boatloads of seeds in it. Great for low-tier, processing, and cultivators. I’d say DM me, but hilariously, I don’t have to say that. This is email and Substack. Not social media.
If you get a call or a dispensary visit from a guy named George or G.W. Schulz, go easy on me. That’s me tryin’ to sell you weed and/or weed products and be an honest player and get my ass moved back to Tulsa by the end of June when my lease is up in Oklahoma City.
Dare one of you to be my first client.
Now on to Metrc, Snoop, and first-degree murder.
OK’s lawsuit over digital weed tracking
Everyone loves Snoop. I love Snoop. I’m jamming “Lodi Dodi” as I write this.
Even if you don’t actively listen to Snoop, you’re charmed by his appearances in Corona ads and authentic friendship with Martha Stewart. You’re impressed by his general ability to move in and out of pop-culture established orders with ease.
It made sense to me when one of Snoop’s investment vehicles, Casa Verde Capital, announced in 2018 that it and Tiger Global Management were pumping $50 million into the cannabis-compliance startup Metrc based in Florida. Said a Case Verde manager when the deal was announced:
“Compliance is the backbone of the cannabis industry.”
Perhaps. But is Metrc the exclusive future of cannabis-compliance in America and Oklahoma? Are flyover-country weed entrepreneurs who are just trying to keep the lights on responsible for proving that Snoop’s investment was worth it?
These are just some of the questions at the heart of Oklahoma’s ongoing class-action lawsuit over digitally tracking and tracing every weed plant and product that moves in the state. Metrc is seeking to intervene in the lawsuit from which it was initially excluded.
Go here for an anchor folder of key filings in attorney Ron Durbin and Tulsa cannabis business Dr Z Leaf’s case. More cannabis businesses are joining the plaintiffs. I’ll keep adding to the folder as new items are filed. Particularly interesting is Metrc’s argument for intervening. Note that like Durbin and Dr Z Leaf, Metrc is carefully placing the ball in the court of Oklahoma weed bureaucrats:
“Metrc vigorously denies breaching the contract or engaging in antitrust actions and further states that it has been given every indication from [the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority] that Metrc is performing well under the contract.”
Metrc also added that state regulators specifically said they were looking for a “single provider of a complete solution” when they sought a system for tracking cannabis seed-to-sale.
That resulted in cannabis businesses being mandated to exclusively use Metrc’s software at a cost to them of $40 per month, plus $0.45 for each cannabis plant and $0.25 for each cannabis product. Metrc now wants into the suit. Metrc COO Lewis Koski wrote in a recent letter to the industry explaining why the company was intervening in the suit:
“While the litigation clearly involves our work with [the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority] and licensees, we were not a named party in a legal action that directly affects our company, employees, and services to Oklahomans. … Despite the recent confusion, cost, and delay, we are confident that seed-to-sale — and the creation of a safe, transparent, and efficient legal-marijuana market — remains a top priority for Oklahoma.”
Durbin and Dr Z Leaf, as you can imagine, have their own response to the Metrc filing. They say their suit was intended to be narrowly focused on Oklahoma regulators and want the intervention attempt from Metrc denied.
Update on LaRue Bratcher
I wrote recently about LaRue Bratcher, who is facing first-degree murder charges after shooting a man to death who was attempting to break into Bratcher’s grow last year. Bratcher was not protected under the state’s stand-your-ground laws, because his cannabis business license had expired. He was working on renewing it.
Bratcher’s trial was scheduled to begin on Monday of this week. His wife announced on social media over the weekend that his trial had been pushed back to Oct. 11. That means 15 months in county lockup before Bratcher gets to tell his side of the story in court. In the meantime, everyone online seems to be spelling his name wrong. His wife spelled it LaRue online Saturday, so I’m spelling it LaRue until I learn otherwise.
Don’t miss these other Substack writers
There’s a super-smart writer doing a weed Substack similar to what I’m trying to do here. But she’s the opposite of strict policy writing. She’s vastly more courageous than I’ll ever be as a writer. Jackie Bryant is part of a small crew of stringers at Forbes who are probably the best weed writers in America right now. Her and her partner put weed in their butts recently and then hilariously wrote about it.
A dear pal named Kim Zetter who wrote about hackers for years at Wired is now part of a small Substack crew that’s been carefully picking apart the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline. Sovereign journalism is what us ink-stained wretches have begun to call Substack. On a related note, I wrote about homeland and border security, civilian-police militarization, and digital government surveillance for a long time. There’s a new boutique security consultancy focused on unconventional security protocols for an unconventional cannabis industry.
GCM Roundup | Oklahoma and Beyond
Oklahoma City’s Stability Cannabis endured a brutal episode this week just as it was getting a big boost of confidence. Hang in there, y’all. I bought a Perfect Ratio shirt there the day I got my last stimulus check to make sure I was spending some of it local.
Mark Woodward from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is still talking to local TV stations like a drug-warrior D.A.R.E. instructor from the 80s.
Don’t give up. “You don’t know if the feds can come in at anytime and shut down your operation. You don’t have a bank, so you can’t necessarily get loans for these kinds of things. So it’s a little bit challenging. But we saw an opportunity and are trying to make it work.”
Two arrested in connection to Guthrie dispensary robberies.
Four dispensaries burglarized in Oklahoma County.
Grow facility in Durant burglarized.
Missouri just finished its biggest-ever weed processing facility. The Show-Me State also just recently surpassed 100,000 licensed medical patients.
No one tell the Texas legislature that Dallas is investing tons of money in weed.
Listening to: Snoop Dogg “Lodo Dodi” Reply with an email or sign up to receive alerts. Follow Green Country Monitor on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. If you appreciate this work, consider leaving a tip.