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AN INTERVIEW WITH SONOMA COUNTY’S MITCHO THOMPSON

Sonoma County Gazette  •  Craig Litwin
June 6, 2022

I had the privilege of interviewing Mitcho to help tell his tale of freeing cannabis from the momentary chains of illegality. He has also been a dependable advocate for the LGBTQI community. His tale begins in the streets of San Francisco continuing through to the country-side of Sonoma County.

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HIGH HORIZONS: THE FUTURE OF CANNABIS

Bohemian  •  Michael Giotis
April 20, 2022

With the legal cannabis industry in a bit of a freefall over the last year, despite the obvious uptick in cannabis consumption, I reached out to my old buddy, 421 Group partner and COO Johnny Nolen, to find out what is next in cannabis innovation?

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CANNABIS AS MEDICAL TREATMENT STILL REQUIRES CULTURAL ACCEPTANCE

Sonoma County Gazette  •  Craig Litwin
April 13, 2022

This issue comes down to access. Treatments for those with mental health issues has always been a complicated subject, but the result often is a one-size-fits-all approach with opioid prescription. While these medications may work for some individuals, the over-prescription of opioids in this country has created a crisis of opioid related addiction and deaths. Opioids are typically prescribed first, but cannabis is a more natural option that doesn't include organ destruction as a by-product. Prohibitions on cannabis must end. It’s time for the medical establishment to look further at using cannabis as an alternative to these addictive substances.

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HOME IS WHERE THE HEMP IS?

Sonoma County Gazette  •  Craig Litwin
March 22, 2022

While there is no local jurisdiction that prohibits smoking inside single family residences, multi-unit housing such as apartments, condos, and townhouses fall under those bans. There is a designated location for all smoking outside. When cannabis use falls under this smoking ban the most accessible and private place for people to consume their medical cannabis is eliminated.

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GROW YOUR OWN!

Sonoma County Gazette  •  Craig Litwin
February 24, 2022

When we come together for the universal purpose of growing our own food and medicine we will improve climate resiliency one yard at a time. Why not hyper-accelerate this connected and cooperative design into action? Let’s clear our conscience. Raise a dirty hand or two if you are ready.

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CANNABIS FARMERS MODEL WATER SAVINGS

Sonoma County Gazette  •  Craig Litwin
January 7, 2022

There are many places to look for agricultural examples of how to be water-wise, but you need not look further than California’s cannabis industry for the best models available. You might be wondering, how can such a newly regulated agricultural industry be an example for other agricultural sectors? Stated plainly, cannabis farmers register with the state water board, track water-use, and often utilize rainwater catchment as part of their regenerative farming methods.

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THE THEME BEHIND THE COMPASSIONATE USE ACT STILL RINGS TRUE TODAY

Sonoma County Gazette  •  Craig Litwin
November 22, 2021

The initiative to make medical cannabis legal was created on a foundation of compassion for those suffering from HIV and AIDS. Just take Brownie Mary as an example. At the height of the AIDS epidemic, Mary Jane Rathbun was famous for baking hundreds of pot brownies a day to give to AIDS and cancer patients. She distributed them throughout the San Francisco community. While she was arrested a couple times for possession, her compassion helped lead the way for California stepping out first to choose cannabis regulations over prohibition. She was just an ordinary woman who saw a need for relief from pain, and she stepped up–something we could all do in our own way. Her legacy lives on through the Brownie Mary Democratic Club, the first cannabis organization ever to be officially connected to a major political party, the California Democratic Party.

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JOINT PASSING

Pacific Sun  •  Michael Giotis
October 6, 2021

For two years I brought this expertise to 421 Group, a cannabis consultancy working with now-household names that are the pillars of North Bay cannabiz. There I was reintroduced to the world of cannabis, from vape-cart ease-of-use to the almost mystical interpretation of current regs.

With this column, I will look for examples from the cannabis industry that illustrate to the business world that cannabis deserves a privileged position in economics and society.

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CANNABIS AS THE NEW NORMAL? IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD

Sonoma County Gazette  •  Craig Litwin
September 9, 2021

We’ve all heard the term thrown around for the last year and a half — “the new normal.” It’s been used to describe the ways that our world is changing, most often the difficult aspects that we as a society need to learn to adjust to. This dwelling on problems can be draining, but ignoring them is not possible. There is an alternative. Define the problem, focus on what to improve, and chart a course of action to get there. Become a change-agent!

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COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS ON RACE - WHITE FRAGILITY AND WHITE PRIVILEGE

KSRO  •  Johnny Nolen
August 26, 2021

Listen to Michelle Marques of KSRO interview Johnny Nolen, 421 Group COO and Board President of CAPES Sonoma, about White Privilege and Fragility as part of Community Conversations on Race.

Listen to the Interview…

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HOME IS WHERE THE CANNABIS CONVERSATION STARTS

Sonoma County Gazette  •  Craig Litwin
July 22, 2021

For a majority of Californians, loving cannabis is easy. But there is still a vocal minority who loathe the plant, who see it as a bad influence on society. I would encourage everyone to recognize and honor each other’s positions, but also to engage in meaningful dialogue with someone with a different perspective than your own. And that all happens at the different iterations of home.

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CANNABIS: THE STORY OF DOING MORE WITH LESS

Sonoma County Gazette  •  Craig Litwin
April 27, 2021

Sonoma County cannabis farmers are expected to do more to receive approval for their crop than any other farmer in Sonoma County. Currently burdened with a conditional use permit (CUP) hearing process as the only path to compliance, allowing cannabis cultivation permitting to go through a rigorous ministerial review through the Sonoma County Ag Commissioner’s office makes sense as an interim step for those who qualify.

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THIS STORY IS ABOUT SO MUCH MORE THAN CANNABIS

Sonoma County Gazette  •  Craig Litwin
March 30, 2021

One thing we know about the times is that they are a-changing, and that is especially true of cannabis policy!

We have seen a lot of evolution since Proposition 215 passed in 1996 when California voters legalized medical cannabis cultivation and collective associations. California was the first state to move towards ending the war on cannabis. A majority of states in the U.S. have legalized medical cannabis, and 15 states have legalized adult use as well. Today, in a sad irony, there are still people in prison for cannabis, a therapeutic plant. Nations, previously gripped by our country’s zero tolerance position towed the line on cannabis prohibition, are now legalizing and decriminalizing personal and medical use.

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FAMILY GROWERS SEEK NEW CANNABIS ORDINANCE

Bohemian  •  Jonah Raskin
January 27, 2021

Kila and Keala Peterson, a mother-and-daughter team with a cannabis farm in Guerneville, are famous for their CBD-rich plants. Sadly, they lost buildings and landscaping in the fires that raged across West County in the summer of 2020. “Out of the ashes comes incredible beauty and opportunity,” Kila tells me. Keala adds, “We’re rebirthing.”

Former Sebastopol mayor, Craig Litwin, who is now at the 421 Group, a cannabis consultancy, wants a new track to end the log jam. “There’s a sense of urgency about a new ordinance,” he tells me. “Growers are chomping at the bit.”

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2020 A DECADE FOR CLARITY REAL-TIME SOLUTIONS TO SINK CARBON AND LEGALIZE CANNABIS

Sonoma County Gazette  •  Craig Litwin
April 2, 2020

I started working on global justice issues as an 18 year old in 1994. I began by organizing and collecting signatures for Proposition 215 in California to allow medical patients access to cannabis for therapeutic purposes. The Proposition won, and California became the first state in the USA to legalize medical cannabis.

This is the decade of hope. Hope that we will finally stop the war against people and a plant by legalizing cannabis in the USA and around the globe. Hope that globally we are increasingly focused on real-time solutions to help sink carbon and restore climate stability.

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GUEST COLUMN: CALIFORNIA’S CANNABIS INDUSTRY REQUIRES ENGAGEMENT

Mountain Democrat  •  Craig Litwin
June 17, 2019

Although I am not from El Dorado County, I am a California native and have been working in the cannabis industry full-time for the last 11 years and as CEO for 421 Group, a California cannabis consultancy nearly 3 years old. I have spent countless hours in local jurisdictions from the mountain towns to the coastal communities. From Trinity in the north to LA in the south my message has been consistent for the last decade plus.

421 Group is happy to help folks strategize on comprehensive community outreach and develop robust local applications. We even have some free tools to assist folks in their efforts. Reach out to us, others who have a similar philosophy or just roll up your sleeves, put your heart out there and engage your local community. You will be glad you did.

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CANNABIS COUNTRY - SEBASTOPOL: A BRIGHT, SHINING LIGHT

The Healdsburg Tribune  •  Jonah Raskin
August 17, 2018

Litwin and his partners in the legal cannabis industry have survived while others in the illegal industry have fallen by the wayside, or not yet succeeded, for half a dozen reasons. They’ve been patient and persistent, they know how to navigate tangled rules and regulations and they know how to talk to people who sit behind desks, make up rules and then enforce them.

Litwin, Thompson, Nolen and Harrison also get along with one another. Finally, they’re at the right place and at the right time.

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PARKS AND RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA: CANNABIS GROUPS ARE IMPROVING PARKS

Green Rush Daily  •  Adam Drury
August 13, 2018

Justice Grown California and 421 Group are donating time and money to Sonoma County’s “Parks for All” campaign.

A number of groups have come out in support of the “Parks for All” initiative. But some of the most vocal proponents have been two cannabis industry groups. 421 Group and Justice Grown California are both donating time and resources to promoting the ballot measure.

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CANNABIS GROUPS SUPPORT PARKS IMPROVEMENT MEASURE

Sonoma West Times & News  •  E.I. Hillin
August 10, 2018

A Sonoma County Parks improvement ballot measure is gaining support from many groups. One of those is the regulated cannabis industry. Craig Litwin, 421 Group President, said by and large, the cannabis industry cares about the environment and open spaces and supporting the Parks for All campaign is a way to show that support.

“It’s critical for the entire community,” Litwin said. “We are here to donate time and money to the campaign.”

421 Group and Justice Grown California are two groups taking a stand in support for the parks campaign. Staff from both groups attended the Parks for All campaign volunteer meeting on Aug. 2 in Santa Rosa.

Read the full article…

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PRESS DEMOCRAT POLL FINDS SHARP DIVISION IN SONOMA COUNTY OVER CANNABIS CULTIVATION

The Press Democrat  •  Guy Kovner
June 3, 2018

The 46 percent averse to cannabis growing anywhere near them is similar to the 41 percent of county residents who voted against legalization, noted Craig Litwin, a Sebastopol-based cannabis industry consultant and entrepreneur.

Litwin, the cannabis consultant, said the industry would be safer with a “banking solution” that would eliminate the lure of cash on hand at growing sites.

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FIRST-EVER SHERIFF CANDIDATES’ CANNABIS DEBATE

Sonoma County Gazette  •  Craig Litwin
March 28, 2018

The first-ever cannabis debate among Sonoma County Sheriff candidates […]

Voters should inform themselves about the sheriff candidates’ attitudes toward – and intentions to support or undermine – the burgeoning cannabis industry. Other key questions include how each candidate envisions the future of policing and enforcement, plans to coordinate with other agencies, intends to prioritize items in the department’s budget and expects to redirect the money previously allocated to cannabis control.

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SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA DA TAKING 'PROACTIVE' APPROACH TO ADDRESSING CANNABIS CONVICTIONS UNDER NEW LAW

Ganjapreneur  •  TG Branfalt
March 14, 2018

The district attorney’s office is working with cannabis consultants 421 Group and attorney Omar Figueroa in the process.

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SONOMA COUNTY DA TAKES ACTION TO CLEAR CANNABIS CONVICTIONS

Sonoma West Times & News  •  E.I. Hillin
March 13, 2018

Local cannabis consultant and former Sebastopol councilmember Craig Litwin said he had a number of conversations with Ravitch on the issue.

“421 Group participated in a conference call with the district attorney and the law offices of Omar Figueroa to advocate for a policy to expunge cannabis convictions,” he said. “I have always found District Attorney Ravitch to be approachable and open to hearing about the needs of the cannabis community.”

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SONOMA COUNTY CHANGES POLICY TO PROACTIVELY CLEAR PAST POT-RELATED CONVICTIONS

The Press Democrat  •  Kevin Fixler
March 5, 2018

“It’s not just a cannabis issue, but a social justice issue,” said Craig Litwin, president of the 421 Group cannabis consultancy. “It helps folks with less means clear their record. They won’t have to claim they were convicted of a crime on future job applications, recognizing that what people did under current standards is not a crime.”

“This has potential to inspire DAs from others counties to do the same thing,” Litwin said. “It follows great leadership in doing what’s right… and helps us further turn the corner on the archaic and unjustified war on cannabis.”

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SEBASTOPOL GREEN LIGHTS THREE CANNABIS HOME DELIVERIES

Sonoma West Times & News  •  E.I. Hillin
February 26, 2018

Craig Litwin, 421 Group cannabis consultant and former two-term councilmember, spoke to the council during public comment. He said two dispensaries were not enough for the city and he believed the city should be more receptive to open[ing] up unlimited amounts of delivery services rather than restricting the number.

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ADULT-USE CANNABIS IN SONOMA COUNTY

Sonoma West Times & News  •  E.I. Hillin
January 30, 2018

Sebastopol has a strong history of cannabis support, said Craig Litwin, former Sebastopol councilmember and principal in the 421 Group, a Sebastopol-based cannabis consultant.

“We’ve had a personal cultivation ordinance for many years in Sebastopol, since 2009,” Litwin said.

The first cannabis business in the county to be granted a cultivation permit, other than medical marijuana dispensaries, was Fiddler’s Greens farm, located south of Sebastopol.

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1/1/2018 IS THE NEW 4/20: SEBASTOPOL OKAYS POT SHOPS

Sonoma West Times & News  •  Bleys Rose
December 21, 2017

“We’re all moving forward,” said Craig Litwin, a former two-term Sebastopol councilman who is now a cannabis business consultant.

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SEBASTOPOL BECOMES 2ND SONOMA COUNTY CITY TO APPROVE RECREATIONAL CANNABIS SALES JAN. 1

The Press Democrat  •  Kevin Fixle
December 19, 2017

“As we’ve developed these rules over the years while I was on the council, Cotati, Santa Rosa, Sonoma County and Sebastopol all kind of moved along as a herd,” said Craig Litwin, former mayor of Sebastopol, and now of the 421 Group, a cannabis business consultancy. “Cloverdale now has joined in. And we’re doing that again – Sebastopol, Cotati, Sonoma County, Santa Rosa – we’re all moving forward.”

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SEBASTOPOL EAGERLY AWAITS SALES TAX DOLLARS FROM POT SALES

Sonoma West Times & News  •  Bleys Rose
December 12, 2017

“Hundreds, if not thousands, of people will be lined up on Jan. 1,” predicted Craig Litwin, who served on the Sebastopol council for eight years and is now a principal in the 421 Group, a Sebastopol-based consultancy for cannabis organizations.

Litwin said that, based on experience with Colorado’s legalization of recreational adult use, medical usage could amount to one-third of sales and recreational usage is the rest.

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SEBASTOPOL CITY COUNCIL POISED TO APPROVE RULES FOR RECREATIONAL CANNABIS SALES

The Press Democrat  •  Julie Johnson
December 6, 2017

“We’ve led on this issue over the years … it makes sense to lead again,” Craig Litwin, a former Sebastopol mayor, longtime medical marijuana activist and cannabis business consultant, told the Sebastopol council.

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CALM AFTER THE FIRESTORM

Sonoma West Times & News  •  Amie Windsor, Rollie Atkinson
November 6, 2017

Elsewhere throughout the city, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members provided extra eyes on the neighborhoods, looking for any floating embers from the fires blowing smoke and ash from north Santa Rosa and the Sonoma Valley, according to CERT member and former mayor Craig Litwin.

“It was rewarding to see people gather together,” Litwin said. “It restored my faith in humanity.”

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CANNABIS COUNTRY

Sonoma West Times & News  •  Jonah Raskin
September 8, 2017

Cannabis maven Craig Litwin told me that in the near future Sonoma and Healdsburg will both allow dispensaries, though he also argued that Sonoma County as a whole has a long way to go on the cannabis road.

A principal of the 421 Group and an ex-mayor of Sebastopol, Litwin points out that Rohnert Park has a casino, but no licensed dispensary. “The war on cannabis is deeply ingrained,” he said. “But the promise of tax revenue will encourage jurisdictions to open their doors to cannabis.”

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CANNABIS BUSINESSES ASK SONOMA COUNTY FOR MORE TIME TO ENTER REGULATED MARKET

The Press Democrat  •  Julie Johnson
August 23, 2017

“It’s the most urgent matter I’ve seen before the Board of Supervisors,” said Craig Litwin, a former mayor of Sebastopol and cannabis industry consultant. “The financial implications are severe for the farmers.”

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OUTSIDER LOOKING IN

The Trinity Journal  •  Craig Litwin
July 26, 2017

As principal and CEO of 421 Group, a cannabis consultancy that helps with organizational design, leadership development, branding, marketing, and public affairs, it would be an understatement to say that we are busy in many West Coast jurisdictions.

As a former mayor from my home town of Sebastopol, Sonoma County, I co-authored a dispensary ordinance in 2005, and have worked full-time on cannabis policy throughout the state since 2008. This recently brought me to Trinity County regarding the creation of a fair cannabis tax.

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SANTA ROSA RELEASES DRAFT RULES FOR MEDICAL CANNABIS

The Press Democrat  •  Kevin McCallum
July 4, 2017

Craig Litwin, a former mayor of Sebastopol and prominent cannabis industry consultant, said the effort looks promising.

“From a first glance, the ordinance appears very well-balanced,” Litwin said. “I look forward to a deeper dive into the details and timeline.”

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SONOMA COUNTY OPENS ITS DOORS FOR CANNABIS BUSINESS APPLICATIONS JULY 5

The Press Democrat  •  Julie Johnson
June 29, 2017

“There is a scramble, certainly people are working to get their ducks in a row,” said Craig Litwin, a cannabis consultant whose firm the 421 Group is helping clients navigate the county permitting process.

Litwin said his company’s clients are mostly cultivators, of which “a solid handful” have their permits ready to be submitted on Wednesday, and “many others (are) waiting in the wings.”

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SPARC UNIFIES BRAND: SONOMA’S PEACE IN MEDICINE BECOMES SPARC

Dope Magazine
May 25, 2017

“I am proud of how far local and state cannabis regulations have come. We are in a new era.” said [Robert] Jacob. “Emblematic of this I am joining 421 Group, a local cannabis consultancy, to continue good work for the community.”

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SANTA ROSA CANNABIS BUSINESS FUELS LAND-USE FEUD

The Press Democrat  •  Kevin McCallum
May 12, 2017

Fleuron’s consultant, Craig Litwin, stressed that there will be no public access to the property, only for employees through electronic controlled gates, no money held on the property, two security guards on site during business hours and numerous security cameras.

“We’re in line with the vision of the city,” Litwin said. “We’re following the rules.”

The city does want the area to become residential someday, Litwin agreed, but wisely chose not to place so many restrictions on the industrial uses that the area will just “limp along.”

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PROPOSED BAN ON OUTDOOR CANNABIS GARDENS RETURNS TO SANTA ROSA CITY COUNCIL

The Press Democrat  •  Kevin McCallum
April 28, 2017

Cannabis consultant Craig Litwin, principle of 421 Group, urges a compromise.

“At a minimum, allowing patients to cultivate outdoors is preferred both for the climate and the pocketbook, as the sun is free,” Litwin said. “Limiting outdoor cultivation areas for personal use to 100 square feet is a reasonable compromise.”

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SONOMA COUNTY VOTERS BACK CANNABIS BUSINESS TAX

The Press Democrat  •  Guy Kovner
March 7, 2017

Craig Litwin, a Sebastopol-based cannabis consultant, said the tax was likely to pass with low voter turnout and the absence of a sustained local opposition campaign.

“It’s easy for voters to pass a cannabis tax as it impacts most people indirectly,” he said. “Hopefully, supervisors will keep the tax rate low and consistent, allowing a regulated industry to take root.”

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SANTA ROSA COUNCIL TO WEIGH CANNABIS TAX TUESDAY

The Press Democrat  •  Kevin McCallum
March 5, 2017

“A fair tax is a good thing,” said Craig Litwin, a Sebastopol consultant to cannabis organizations. “What we have to be cautious about is the combination of taxes and fees that are being called for from every direction.”

Litwin has estimated that when all the various federal, state and local tax taxes under consideration are layered on top of one another, some in the industry could find themselves paying tax rates nearing 40 percent.

“It’s moving in the right direction, but I’m still worried that it’s a little high,” Litwin said.

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MARIJUANA’S BIG DAY, 4/20, ARRIVES IN THE WAKE OF CALIFORNIA’S LEGALIZATION

The Press Democrat  •  Guy Kovner
April 19, 2017

Craig Litwin, a Sebastopol cannabis consultant, gives the day high marks.

“For me, 4/20 celebrates cannabis, the most diverse plant known to humans,” he said. “One that provides medical relief, brings joyful recreation and can become thousands of essential industrial products.”

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NEW LAW PUTS 3,000 SONOMA COUNTY CANNABIS CULTIVATORS IN JEOPARDY

The Press Democrat  •  Guy Kovner
February 18, 2017

But Craig Litwin, a consultant to cannabis organizations and former Sebastopol councilman, said that while he appreciates the county’s move to bring the marijuana industry under the law, “they have thrown the small grower under the bus.”

“I’ve talked to many of them,” Litwin said. “There’s a real fear for their families; how they’re going to put food on the table.”

Cultivators who can’t obtain a county permit “will be stuck in the black market,” he said.

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17 NEW BUSINESSES TO CHECK OUT IN SONOMA COUNTY

The Press Democrat  •  Guy Kovner
February 11, 2017

421 Group, a cannabis business consulting firm, was launched by Craig Litwin (pictured here), a two-time Sebastopol City Council Member, and Angie Monette Harrison of Citizens for Responsible Access.

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SONOMA COUNTY’S PROPOSED CANNABIS BUSINESS TAX HEADS TO VOTERS

The Press Democrat  •  Guy Kovner
February 11, 2017

The 15 percent state tax, plus a 10 percent county cannabis cultivation and 5 percent manufacturing tax, piled onto an existing 8 percent sales tax rate, would total 38 percent, said Craig Litwin, a Sebastopol consultant to cannabis organizations.

“That tax is way too high,” he said, calling it a “cash overreach.”

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YEAR IN REVIEW: NORTH COAST BRACES FOR CHANGE AS MARIJUANA INDUSTRY STAKES OUT LEGAL FUTURE

The Press Democrat  •  Guy Kovner
December 31, 2016

“It’s been a fantastic year of transformation and transition,” said Craig Litwin, a Sebastopol consultant to cannabis organizations. The industry is already worth billions of dollars, and Litwin said the California mandate reflects the drug’s wider acceptance, part of what he contends is a global shift in attitude.

Most people now “see marijuana as a substance they are comfortable with,” he said.

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SEBASTOPOL CONSULTANT FORGES CAREER IN CRUSADE TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA

The Press Democrat  •  Guy Kovner
October 30, 2016

“We have to stop treating cannabis as a criminal issue. It’s a plant that folks should have a right to access,” said [Craig] Litwin, who has spent his entire adult life working to break down prohibition.

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SHOULD MARIJUANA BE LEGALIZED IN CALIFORNIA? A LOOK AT PROPOSITION 64

The Press Democrat  •  Guy Kovner
October 16, 2016

Craig Litwin, a Sebastopol cannabis consultant, said he was concerned that Proposition 64 allows “gigantic grows that would eventually wipe out mom and pop growers.”

Nonetheless, he said the measure was “mostly positive,” noting that it permits the Legislature to amend major provisions, including cultivation licensing standards, with a simple majority vote, an allowance that is rare for initiatives that are typically locked into the wording presented to voters.

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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

The Press Democrat • Robert Digitale
September 11, 2016

421 Group, a consulting firm for cannabis businesses, has opened in Sebastopol. Its principals are Craig Litwin a two-term member of the Sebastopol City Council, and Angie Monette Harrison, a founder of Citizens for Responsible Access, a California PAC focusing on cannabis policy.

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