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New West Daily Roundup for Feb. 9, 2017

Today in New West news: West Paw Design named 2016 Montana Manufacturer of the Year, what Jeff Sessions will mean for the marijuana industry, and Patagonia drops out of Outdoor Retailer over Bears Ears.

According to a press release from the Montana Manufacturing Association, Bozeman-based West Paw Design has been named the 2016 Montana Manufacturer of the Year. West Paw, which manufactures “safe, durable and eco-friendly pet products,” has been in business since 1996. From the press release:

“Our winner makes me proud to be associated with the manufacturing industry here in Montana,” said Bryan Wood, President and CEO of Wood’s Powr-Grip in Laurel. Wood serves as Chair of the MMA and is a past winner of the Manufacturer of the Year award.

“West Paw Design has developed a number of proprietary technologies and has an outstanding track record of community involvement and employee engagement. I’m honored to call West Paw Design Montana’s 2016 Manufacture of the Year,” concluded Wood.


The Bozeman based company is also innovative in many facets of the business. West Paw Design was the first company to become a Benefit Corporation in Montana as a way of furthering their commitment to the B Corp movement. B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

“Earning the Montana Manufacturer of the Year award is meaningful to all of the employees who are the heart and soul of the company,” said Spencer Williams, Owner and President of West Paw Design. “Since 1996 we have taken our passion for making eco-friendly pet products and turned it into an opportunity to create jobs in our local economy and state. We love Montana, which is why we choose to continue to manufacture pet products and raise our families here,” concluded Williams.

West Paw Design will formally be presented their award in Helena March 1, 2017: Manufacturing and International Trade Day. More information is available here.

Looking at the whole region briefly, with the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Colorado’s burgeoning marijuana industry fears an impending crackdown. Medical marijuana advocates also fear recent ballot measures will be contested by the Justice Department, in contrast to the “laissez-faire” approach taken by the Obama Administration. According to author and drug policy expert John Hudak, speaking to The Cannabist, however, even with a staunch anti-marijuana advocate helming the Justice Department, enforcing such a measure has its limits:

The Cannabist: Hypothetically, if he does decide to enforce federal law, what could that look like?

Hudak: Physical law enforcement is one option.

Of course, the limits to that are federal officials have to do that. They can’t compel state or local officials to help them and so that creates an even bigger manpower task. But beyond that, yeah, filing lawsuits, asking courts for injunctions, asking courts for restraining orders. Stopping state officials from behaving in a certain way. I think it’s going to be tougher for Sessions to do this to (Colorado Gov.) John Hickenlooper or (Washington Gov.) Jay Inslee. I think the states that just approved legal marijuana, to actually stop before it starts, is going to be a much more effective strategy.

If I were advising Jeff Sessions — I’m certainly not — if I was asked to provide the quickest stab to the heart of what you can do, I would say: File an injunction against the eight governors who just legalized medical and recreational marijuana, freezing their systems in place. That includes California, and that’s a killer.

That’s a pretty easy approach. And then you don’t have to expend as much time. You need to use attorneys, deputy attorneys general, assistants to them, but you don’t have to use 10,000 DEA agents to go into all of these states.

(Physical enforcement) would take a true army. You have DEA in every state, FBI also, but some places are easy. So you look at a system like New York or Connecticut that only have a handful of grows, handful of dispensaries. FBI and DEA in those states could probably — pretty easily — step in and shut all of those places down in a day.

You come out to the states with very large medical and recreational marijuana programs — Colorado, Washington, California, Nevada — these become much bigger challenges.

There’s one thing Donald Trump hates more than anything: it’s failing, and failing on a grand stage. He will fail if he tries to have DEA physically shut every cannabis-related business down.

Throughout the interview, Hudak said the Department’s likely focus will be on immigration and other factors of drug enforcement, like the growing opioid crisis. In addition, Congress seems currently uninterested in marijuana policy. Hudak added that Sessions could certainly rescind the 2013 Cole Memo, which outlines how federal agencies should police legally enacted marijuana polices in states like Colorado, which would send ripples throughout both the industry and state governments. Hudak also put a damper on the industry overall, saying it’s not as gigantic as marijuana advocates claim, adding that the potential existential threat from a proactive anti-marijuana Justice Department could sharpen the industry’s focus and cut down on infighting.

Finally, over in Utah, recreation giant Patagonia announced earlier this week it would not appear at the twice-yearly Outdoor Retailer convention in Salt Lake City. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Patagonia will refuse to make an appearance as long as the convention is held in Utah. The reason? Hostility on the part of Utah’s legislature (and Governor Gary Herbert) toward Bears Ears National Monument. Designated in late 2016 by President Obama, after several years of campaigning on the part of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and other tribal/environmental entities, the monument strives to protect the ecology, archaeology, and cultural holdings of the region.

We previously reported that Utahn representatives in the U.S. House and Senate had been calling on President Trump to rescind the designation, as well as the designation of Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada.

Patagonia said the continued hostility toward Bears Ears as a national monument was a direct rebuke of the outdoor industry, according to the Tribune:

“Because of the hostile environment they have created and their blatant disregard for Bears Ears National Monument and other public lands, the backbone of our business, Patagonia will no longer attend the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah,” said Patagonia president Rose Marcario in a news release. “… We are confident other outdoor manufacturers and retailers will join us in moving our investment to a state that values our industry and promotes public lands conservation.”

Patagonia’s statement came one day after show organizers announced they are opening the door to proposals from other potential host cities after holding the enormous, twice-yearly gear show and convention for two decades in Salt Lake City.

The search for a host city follows complaints by some in the outdoor industry — including Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and Peter Metcalf, founder of Utah-based Black Diamond — that political leaders in Utah are hostile to the public lands that the recreation businesses depend on.

Organizers specifically cited last week’s resolution on Bears Ears as well as a rules change proposed in Congress by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, to alter how federal lands are valued and make them easier to sell, and other efforts to have federal lands turned over to the state.

“We’ve heard member discontent as well as comments from Utah’s [political] delegations and efforts on public-land policy that are out of alignment with what our industry stands for,” said Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, which has close ties to the show and encouraged the show’s owner, Emerald Expositions, to seek a range of potential host cities.

“The overriding theme,” Roberts said, “is a disagreement over keeping public lands public, and we really see that as a foundational issue for our industry.”

Outdoor Retailer organizers have said they have not made a decision whether to leave Salt Lake or no, but said they are “opening up the floor to proposals.”

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