Meet New York’s Cannabis Director of Policy

As part of New York Cannabis Control Board’s (CCB) meeting on August 15, 2022, the CCB proposed and approved John Kagia as the Office of Cannabis Management’s Director of Policy. Given the expansive and stratified plans for New York’s adult-use cannabis industry (with the general ban on vertical integration, emphasis on social equity and advanced conditional licenses), the Director of Policy will have a quite a few responsibilities.

From the OCM’s position posting, the Director of Policy’s duties will include (but will not be limited to!):

  • Overseeing data analysis and evaluation of programs, policies and initiatives of the OCM;
  • Managing the strategic planning, implementation and evaluation of the OCM’s policy initiatives and serving as a senior advisor to Executive Staff;
  • Directing the evaluation of the impact of cannabis legalization using key indicators across a variety of sub-populations and metrics;
  • Researching, interpreting and analyzing pending legislation, laws, policies and administrative guidelines or case law focusing on the effects of legislative enactments, issues, other rules and regulations affecting the administration, programs operations or service delivery; and
  • Using scientifically and epidemiologically valid methods and standards for policy development.

A few interesting things to note based on the identified duties. First, the OCM clearly was looking for someone with a background in data analytics. Second, there appears to be an ongoing political component in that the Director of Policy appears to be tasked with providing analytic support for the OCM and CCB’s policies.

And it looks like the OCM and CCB found a near perfect fit. Prior to be approved and hired by the OCM, Mr. Kagia was the Chief Knowledge Officer for New Frontier Data. From his bio:

John Kagia is a pioneering thought leader in the cannabis industry. He has developed market leading forecasts for the growth of the industry, uncovered groundbreaking insights into the cannabis consumer, and led the first-of-its-kind analysis of global cannabis demand.

Kagia works with investors, business owners and operators, and industry innovators to understand the fast-evolving industry, capitalize on emerging opportunities, hedge against risks, and predict market-defining trends. Leveraging his years of experience managing research studies for industry-leading clients including Accenture, Boston Consulting Group, IBM, Microsoft, and the U.S. Department of State, Kagia brings a keen understanding of how market insights enable organizations to plan, grow, compete, and measure performance more effectively.

From the OCM’s perspective, the emphasis on data analytics was plainly met in Mr. Kagia. Given everything that is happening in New York’s adult-use cannabis industry, Mr. Kagia will have no choice but to hit the ground running, but it certainly seems like a good match and a step in the right direction.

The post Meet New York’s Cannabis Director of Policy appeared first on Harris Bricken Sliwoski LLP.

Cash Only’s 420 Recs: L.A.’s Finest Rapper-Singer

This article was originally published on Cash Only. Sign up for the newsletter here and follow Cash Only on Instagram and Twitter.

Buddy is one of L.A.’s finest up-and-coming musicians—a rapper-singer hybrid with a knack for creating hooks that immediately sound timeless. He’s not new to the game, though: At age 15, he got signed to Pharrell’s Star Trak label, collaborated with Kaytranada on an EP in 2017, and put out his first full-length on RCA Records (Harlan & Alondra) shortly after that. Definitely check out his viral NPR Tiny Desk Concert from 2019 as an intro to his special blend of sonic sweetness.

Buddy is 28 now, and he recently dropped his second LP titled Superghetto, featuring appearances from Tinashe, T-Pain, and Blxst. He even performed the single “Wait Too Long” on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, in which he coolly lounges in an armchair and pretends to chat on a landline before diving into a sexy-ass serenade.

Buddy was born and raised in Compton, and the artist is no stranger to fine West Coast weed. In fact, he says he’s been loyal to the strain Luigi OG, which is only grown by one L.A. farmer, for the last 10 years. “It’s the gas-iest of the gas. It’s that 91 Premium Deluxe,” he told Cash Only during a breezy phone call.

Buddy was generous enough to make some time to talk about his weed preferences, including cutting down on tobacco in his spliffs, his appreciation for Jay-Z’s marijuana brand Monogram, and the benefits of combining weed and yoga. Enjoy!

Photo by Castro Clifton, courtesy of Orienteer / Buddy

What’s your favorite weed strain and how do you like to consume it?

Buddy: I’ve had the same favorite weed strain for the last 10 years, Luigi OG. I’m friends with the weed man who runs the company; he has one grower who I’ve never met, but he’s been the same grower for the last 30 years or so. It’s the best weed in L.A. — pure OG Kush. It’s my favorite. I been getting high off that for a decade, maybe even over a decade.

It’s that endo—indoor grown. It’s the way it smells when you break the seal of the packaging. It’s the way it feels as I’m breaking it down with my fingers. It’s the way it smokes after I light it up and take that first hit. It’s how it makes me feel—it gets me so relaxed. I smoke a whole blunt and go to sleep! Wake up and it’ll be the next day. That knockout weed. It’s an indica—all indica. No hybrid or dominant stuff; it’s just indica.

It’s the gas-iest of the gas. It’s that 91 Premium Deluxe. It’s so green, it’s just green. Only green. It’s super fluffy and condensed. I don’t know how it can be so fluffy and condensed at the same time. It’s got the buoyancy, like you know when you pinch a nug and it’s got a little bounce on it? Then you start breaking it down and it just takes forever. You peel it little by little and you can get a big old pile of weed from one condensed nug, and then you can roll it up.

I like using Grabba Leaf, like the fronto leaves, all the way. But lately, I’ve been rolling spliffs. I take some of the Grabba, mix it with the weed, and roll it in some papers because I’ve been trying to wean myself away from tobacco so I can just be high on the weed. I’m on that tobacco-free journey, one day at a time, one spliff at a time.

Photo by Jack McKaine, courtesy of Orienteer / Buddy

Do you have a current favorite weed product?

I just got put on to the Jay-Z weed, the Monogram stuff. That weed is cool. I like how they package those pre-rolled joints. There are little magnets on the black box and it comes with four pre-rolled joints in little tubes. It looks so chic. I’m really impressed by the packaging. It’s elegant—like a higher hierarchy of marijuana, a “higher-archy.” The actual weed isn’t my favorite, but that packaging…

What activity do you like to do after you’ve smoked?

I picked up yoga recently and I be getting super high and then super zen. That combo gets me super chill. A little meditation, some time alone. It’s good for me. All vibes over here.

Can you recommend something to watch while stoned?

I been watching Snowfall lately. It’s on FX but they got it on Hulu. It’s about dealing drugs and cocaine in L.A. They drop episodes every Thursday. The homie Damson [Idris] is the main character Franklin on the show. He’s the kingpin in the hood for real, getting dope from the government, selling it in the hood. There’s a bunch of government conspiracy stuff going on behind the scenes, and then the street shit with the Crips and the Bloods, and the n*gg*s from Compton and Inglewood fighting over the money and drugs. It’s awesome. I be getting high and watching that shit. It was John Singleton’s last project before he passed. It’s my show right now. It be going up.

In the last episode, Franklin’s auntie and uncle got married, and somebody put LSD in the chocolate fountain. So everybody was eating chocolate-covered strawberries and then tripping out! It was a crazy episode and I’m waiting for the next one to see what happened because Franklin’s auntie just called a hit out on somebody they made a truce with. Oh, it’s finna get crazy! I’m trying to get married and have an LSD wedding now. Fuck it, let’s take it there.

Can you recommend something to listen to while smoking?

I’m big on Outkast—ATLiens, Aquemini, Speakerboxxx / The Love Below. I’ll go into an Outkast friends and family wormhole. Aquemini is probably my favorite, but it’s hard to decide.

Can you recommend something to read after getting baked?

I’ve been trying to get through this nifty booklet. It’s hard, though. I’ve been circling back on The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida. It’s a spiritual guide to mastering the challenges of women, work, and sexual desire. It’s a handy guide, a self-help book, for situations that I be in with women and work and sexual desires. It’s helped in my personal life. It’s good to read; it assures thoughts I’ve already had. It confirms thoughts I already be thinking. It’s like wow, I’m not crazy and I’m not wrong.

Who’s in your dream blunt rotation?

Beyonce, no doubt. Me and the Queen B. Jay-Z can come if he wants. We’ll probably be smoking some Monogram out of respect, but I’ll probably mix it with that Luigi OG just so I can get some fire in there and we can spliff it up. We’ll probably just be hanging out, internet shopping, listening to music and stuff. I wanna shop online with Beyonce’s card and smoke weed and watch movies and stuff. It would be a good time.

Listen to “Superghetto” here.

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The post Cash Only’s 420 Recs: L.A.’s Finest Rapper-Singer appeared first on High Times.

Drink to Your Health

In California, it’s called Cali sober, but all over the world people are switching from alcohol to cannabis-infused beverages, purposefully doing away with drunkenness, cognitive fumbling, and stumbling—and possibly that walk of shame the next morning—along with the hangovers. Harm reduction is the new buzzword for switching to weed, with people across the country choosing the plant over booze, stating it makes them better people, parents, and partners.

A Nose for Flavor

Wine specialist and sommelier turned cannabis beverage connoisseur, Jamie Evans, founded The Herb Somm in 2017. The blog and lifestyle brand hosts high-end, gourmet cannabis-infused dinners curated with wine and cannabis. Her first book, The Ultimate Guide to CBD: Explore the World of Cannabidiol, was released in 2020 and features recipes infused with CBD. Her second book, Cannabis Drinks: Secrets to Crafting CBD and THC Beverages at Home, was released in 2021.

“Cannabis drinks are a fantastic alternative to alcohol,” Evans said. “With the new low-dose options that are now available, these beverages can offer a similar experience to drinking one glass of wine or a beer, but without the hangover. Market trends are also showing that more consumers are seeking alternatives to alcoholic beverages for health reasons, which has been driving new curious consumers to the cannabis drinks category.”

In 2021, Evans launched Herbacée, a cannabis-infused beverage company, “celebrating flower and vine.” Evans said the iconic wine regions of France inspired Herbacée. The non-alcoholic cannabis beverage blends phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids derived from plants), terpenes (aromatic compounds which contribute to taste and smell), tannins (a bitter, astringent compound found in things like wine), and terroir (characteristic tastes imparted by the natural environment).

“In researching cannabis, I came across many similarities between the plant and wine, including farming practices and sensory evaluation techniques,” Evans said. “Mixology is defined as the skill of mixing cocktails and other drinks, but at its core, it’s the extensive study of the art and craft of combining flavors.”

Courtesy of Jamie Evans

Cannabis Cocktails

With her new drinks guide, Evans offers recipes, tips, and tricks in making cannabis-infused craft cocktails, smoothies, lattes, and spirit-free mixed drinks at home. Basic infusions include making age-old bitters, honey, sour mix, simple syrups, and alcohol-based tinctures. Using a technique she calls “infused mixology,” the book teaches the basic building blocks of crafting marijuana mocktails.

“One of the most important things to making a good cocktail is balance,” Evans said. “As with all drinks, we must evaluate whether the drink is too sweet or too sour? Is it complex or simple? What’s the texture like? How can you make this drink more intriguing and palatable? Once you can achieve balance, you’ve created a good cocktail. Also, remember that every ingredient that goes into the beverage is meant to enhance the complexity, structure, mouthfeel, and backbone.”

Evans
Courtesy of Jamie Evans

The Future is Fluid

Evans is excited for more people to try their hand at making cannabis cocktails.

“I am enthusiastic about the future of cannabis cuisine, cannabis restaurants, and cannabis-infused beverage bars,” she said. “In my opinion, making your own infusions, such as cannabis-infused simple syrup or cannabis-infused bitters, is the best method to use since it allows you to customize the infusion based on your personal preferences.”

Cannabis infusions will also combine into drinks seamlessly versus using a commercially-made oil tincture. Evans said the only downside with making your own infusions is calculating the dosage. With homemade creations, the milligram count will never be as precise as using a professionally-made product.

If you don’t have time to create your own infusions, Evans suggests adding an alcohol or oil tincture to infuse drinks.

“Dosing in this way is easy when using a measured tincture or water-soluble formulations that have already been tested with protocols,” she said. “CBD isolates using just one compound from the plant, cannabidiol, are another way to infuse a beverage. They are typically flavorless, odorless and are a fast and potent way to integrate CBD into your regime.”

Evans noted consumers can also utilize beverages already infused with THC or CBD right off the shelf, adding the pre-made infusions to their mocktails for another quick mix. She said the most important thing is to make sure everything used can be well blended, mixed, stirred, shaken, or muddled (mashing plants, such as mint or fruit in the bottom of a glass).

Evans said those interested in crafting their own cannabis cocktails can begin by making tasting notes for each ingredient and should not shy away from the herbaceous taste of weed.

“When working with cannabis in a cocktail, don’t mask the flavor of cannabis, complement it,” she said. “A lot of producers add a ton of sugar to drinks that cover the flavors of cannabis. Instead, if you focus on using terpene-inspired ingredients, they will play well with cannabis flavors and your drinks will taste delicious!”

theherbsomm.com

Evans’ book Cannabis Drinks: Secrets to Crafting CBD and THC Beverages at Home contains a wealth of knowledge regarding how to take the guesswork out of making quality homemade cannabis beverages. Here are two recipes from the book.

Evans
Courtesy of Jamie Evans

Ginger Rabbit

Packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, fresh carrot juice adds delicious flavors to drinks and can help improve your immune system, increase your metabolism, and help lower cholesterol. Carrot juice also pairs well with many other fruits, vegetables, roots, and herbs, making it a wonderful item to mix with. Introducing the ginger rabbit: Give this recipe a try when you’re in need of some extra nutrients to help support your immune system or anytime you’re in the mood for an incredibly refreshing drink!

Yield: 1 serving
Target Dose: 8 mg CBD | 2 mg THC per drink (using infused ginger simple syrup), or your preferred dose (using a commercially made CBD or THC tincture of your choice)

Equipment:
Muddler
Shaker tin
Fine-mesh strainer
Collins glass
Bar spoon
Reusable straw

Ingredients:
1 (1-inch or 2.5-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 ounces (60 ml) fresh-pressed apple juice
4 ounces (118 ml) fresh-pressed carrot juice
1 1/2 ounces (45 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce (15 ml) infused ginger simple syrup 
Ice
Splash of ginger beer 
Carrot greens, edible flowers, and a slice of lemon for garnish

Directions:
Muddle the ginger and apple juice at the bottom of a shaker tin. Muddle well to extract as much ginger flavor as possible. Add the carrot juice, lemon juice, and infused ginger simple syrup. Add ice, cover, then shake for 15 seconds or until very cold.

Using a fine-mesh strainer, separate the solids from the liquids over a Collins glass filled three-quarters with fresh ice. Top with a splash of ginger beer, give it a good stir with a bar spoon, then garnish with a sprig of carrot greens, edible flowers, and a slice of lemon. This drink is best enjoyed with a reusable straw.

Note: When making spirit-free mixed drinks, it’s best to stick with healthier options and avoid extra sugar. I always recommend using fresh-pressed juices over concentrates and to source seasonal ingredients so that you’re working with the freshest produce possible. The same goes for ginger beer—the quality matters. I recommend using Q Ginger Beer because of its extra carbonation and spicy but not overly sweet flavor. Avoid using mixers that contain high fructose corn syrup or a ton of added sugar. These additives can drastically change the drink’s profile. If you don’t have the supplies to infuse the ginger simple syrup, simply substitute for regular simple syrup, then add your favorite unflavored tincture (at your preferred dose) into the shaker tin before muddling. Follow the directions as written.

Infused Ginger Simple Syrup

Yield: about 15 to 16 ounces (465 to 480 ml)
Target Dose: 16 mg CBD | 4 mg THC per ounce (using a flower infusion)

Equipment:
Digital scale
Peeler
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Small saucepan
Thermometer
One 16-ounce (480-ml) sterilized Mason jar
Cheesecloth
Fine-mesh strainer

Ingredients:
3 grams decarboxylated flower of your choice
2 cups (480 ml) water
1 cup (340 g) honey
1 1/2 heaping tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into pieces 
1 tablespoon (15 ml) food-grade vegetable glycerin

Directions:
Weigh out 3 grams of decarboxylated flower. Set aside.

Combine the water, honey, and ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a soft boil, stirring until the honey dissolves into the water. Reduce the heat to around 160°F to 180°F (71°C to 82°C) and add the decarboxylated cannabis.

Simmer over low heat for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and add the vegetable glycerin—this will give the CBD (and THC) something to bind to. Continue to heat and stir for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Pour the infused simple syrup into a 16-ounce (480-ml) Mason jar through cheesecloth placed in a fine-mesh strainer to remove the solids. Let cool and shake before serving.

This article appears in the June 2022 issue of High Times. Subscribe here.

The post Drink to Your Health appeared first on High Times.

An Audience With the King

In a world of pot pantheons, one must be exceptional to be crowned “The King of Cannabis.” Arjan Roskam, founder of the Green House Brands empire holds this moniker, thanks to a heady mix of being a passionate proponent for the plant and his tenacity for growing phenomenal phenos that rise well above the norm.

In an exclusive, wide-ranging conversation that covers everything from world leaders to exciting new cultivars, I catch up with the busy Roskam, who’s looking fit and rested from his home in Spain.

Roskam leads myriad cannabis ventures that have flourished for more than three decades and the magnitude of this magnate’s influence and connections isn’t to be underestimated.

The original Green House cannabis club in Amsterdam.

A natural entrepreneur, his kingdom includes Green House Seed Company (GHSC), Green House Coffeeshops, Green House Feeding, Green House Kitchen, GH Medical and the revolutionary Strain Hunters documentary series. He held the Netherland’s first federal grow license for pharmacies for the Stichting Institute of Medical Marijuana. And his quest for the planet’s rarest genetics has enabled scientific research into rare landrace strains—potentially unlocking untold medical advancements. He’s an ardent advocate for legalization and works with governments around the world to achieve that goal.

Born in Holland and raised in Zambia, Africa, Roskam’s journey to reefer royalty began when he was 17 while
backpacking through northern Thailand. There, a medicine man treating heroin addicts with cannabis gave him a handful of seeds and told him, “Keep those seeds. In the future, these seeds will overthrow governments.”

Young Roskam had no idea how prophetic those words would come to be.

Roskam works a cannabis field in South Africa.

In 1992, together with his wife Rose, he opened his first coffee shop, Green House Pijp, also known as The Green House, on The Tolstraat in Amsterdam. Fittingly, the area is known as the city’s Diamond District. Rose, an interior designer, created an airy, artistic space that was deliberately different from the style and vibe of Amsterdam’s existing coffee shops. Today, Green House Pijp continues to be a regular stop for A-list celebrities.

I ask Roskam about the now legendary event that changed everything: the day in January 1993 that High Times, the groundbreaking counter-culture journal of its day, went to Roskam’s coffee shop and asked him to take part in a cannabis competition they were sponsoring.

“Why not?” Roskam recalls saying. “The owners told me they’d come with maybe 100-200 people in November during the Thanksgiving holiday, to celebrate the first cannabis competition. We had totally forgotten about it when, suddenly, November arrived and 500 people appeared at my front door.” Not just customers, but international media, too.

That first year, Roskam won multiple awards, including the top prize in the coffee shop category. Naturally, people began asking for seeds.

In 1995, Roskam launched Green House Seed Company and, together with his team of master cultivators, has continued to produce cultivars with exceptional cannabinoid levels and unique terpene profiles. To date, GHSC has won dozens of worldwide accolades—a testament to the legendary genetics Roskam and his team have amassed in almost four decades.

These accomplishments have made GHSC the crown jewel of cannabis genetics, home to rare and popular varietals including Himalayan Gold and White Widow, the most popular cultivar of the 1990s. By happenstance, White Widow was my favorite strain as a young adult living in London during that decade. I loved its hazy, euphoric buzz that helped me tap into my creative flow when I was at art school.

Super Lemon Haze is, arguably, Roskan’s most celebrated—and what he credits as being “probably the most famous strain ever.” He tells me that he’s a Sativa guy and that his favorite cultivar is Hawaiian Snow—a Hawaiian Sativa x Laos cross with an uplifting high.

Strain: Super Lemon Haze

Our conversation then turns to the hot topic of the last couple of years.

In December 2020, the Dutch government introduced a strict lockdown throughout the entire country following a rapid rise in COVID cases. I ask Roskam about how it affected his businesses and he recalls the events that transpired.

“The prime minister went live on television at 4pm and two hours later, the whole country was shut down,” he says. “Across the whole of Holland, hundreds of people were lining up outside coffee shops and street dealers were handing out pamphlets with prices of cocaine, ecstasy and God knows what to everybody waiting in the line. This was of course, very, very visible to everybody. The Justice Minister panicked and called all the mayors the next day to pull it back. We were told, ‘You’re essential, now reopen immediately.’ So, we reopened for takeaway-only and that went on for a while and then we instituted the one-and-a-half-meters distance policy. We had screens in our shop and all that kind of stuff.”

For Roskam, this period presented an opportunity to really utilize the time and reset his goals—both at home and further afield.

Initially, he took the opportunity to remodel all five of his coffee shops for the first time in 27 years. Roksam explains that his style of coffee shop was still from an era when hash bars had to be at the back of the store “because it wasn’t allowed to be visible from the street under law.” Fortunately, his team included people that were handy with tools, including a plasterer, a carpenter and a plumber. “We had everything in-house,” he says.

Then, he reframed GHSC, which Roksam claims was needed because he’d been working in the Congo, Canada and was busy with other projects for the past decade. Together with Dust Lion, the head grower and breeder for GHSC, he started making new strains by crossing Old World with New World genetics. My pupils almost dilate with heady pleasure as he tells me details of the 20 to 25 new varietals in the pipeline.

Roskam then surprises me by revealing that in March 2022, Green House ended its partnership with Canopy Growth Corporation—Canada’s largest licensed producer of cannabis with globe-spanning operations—that had been in place since 2017. The fact that he quietly did this speaks volumes.

The split from Canopy is seismic news, potentially signaling more downturns for the dominant multiple state operators (MSOs) running in Canada and in the US. Overproduction is choking demand and sending prices, stocks and confidence ever downward. MSOs have been gobbling up the majority market share in newly legal markets including Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, which is proving to be detrimental to smaller, social equity license holders. 

Roskam says he decided that it was time to “reset some programs that were running and that we also wanted to be out of the deal because we don’t agree with their business model,” noting, however, that it was “a happy divorce.”

“We came out of this COVID period doing new things, basically with a new wind,” he tells me with a smile and a purposeful tone.

Roskam’s commitment to creating cannabis fit for a king extends beyond cultivation. He has spearheaded advocacy work that’s led to unprecedented changes to draconian laws. He advises many governments around the world—including Colombia, Macedonia and, most recently, Thailand—on how to best move forward with cannabis legalization.

Until recently, Thailand had some of the most stringent anti-drug laws in the world, but in June 2022 it became the first country in Southeast Asia to decriminalize cannabis for medical and other purposes. The Thai government recently gave away one million cannabis plants to citizens so registered households can cultivate up to six plants to sell. Recreational use, however, remains illegal, but the government also aims to release around 4,000 cannabis prisoners.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Thailand and we chat freely about our mutual love for the beautiful country—Roskam tells me he attended the very first Full Moon Party more than a quarter century ago in Ko Pha-ngan. When I bring up Thailand’s recent 180-degree turn from lock-up to liberation, Roskam became clearly animated. He pulled out his iPhone and scrolled through a shocking number of messages that he claimed to be between him and Thai government officials.

“I can’t say too much, he tells me, clearly pleased with the role he played in shifting policy so dramatically, “but what I can say is that we’re one of the forces behind this. My team went to Thailand three times and we advised the Thai government on how to take care of this.”

With his global perspective and place in helping to change laws, I ask about his perception of the US and the country’s drawn-out move toward federal legalization. What he said next made me nearly fall off my chair.

“For me, it was a total surprise that Donald Trump didn’t pull the cards eight weeks before the election, because we were lobbying like crazy,” he says casually. “We told him to pull that card because he’d get re-elected, but he didn’t. Through his famous daughter [Ivanka Trump] and son-in-law [Jared Kushner], we had some people there. But I don’t know what went wrong.”

Is the self-proclaimed King of Cannabis saying that legalizing weed could have helped Trump win the 2020 election? Roskam came across as resolute as he has been on everything. But it stopped me in my tracks. Would legalizing cannabis have moved the needle enough to get him reelected? I understand if you need a minute to process. I’ll wait…

After taking a quiet moment to absorb the steady flow of breaking news Roskam is casually dropping, I start to wonder what’s left for him to do, and in a broader context, what’s the lasting legacy of Green House.

He tells me that the company’s impact is much more than great genetics.

“I started making cannabis movies in 2006,” he says. “I’ve traveled my whole life—I grew up in Africa and have been everywhere and I thought, ‘You know what, let’s show the world what’s really going on, with 200 million poor people around the equator, depending on marijuana’. In Africa, kids can’t go to school because they have to guard the cattle, because if they don’t, the cattle will eat the vegetables and the whole family will starve. I thought it was a very important thing to show. At the same time, we were going into countries to show how really ridiculous the system was. One example is Colombia where it’s now legal. After we left, the Colombian president told the BBC: ‘I’m not going to put people in prison anymore for an ounce of weed—it doesn’t make sense anymore.’ Exactly.”

At this point, Roskam’s teenage son—who has just returned from boarding school—comes into the room. Roskam excuses himself from our conversation while he focuses his attention on his son and the two have a brief exchange in their native tongue. Just after his son leaves the room, Roskam tells me about his children’s plan to take over the family business one day—his eldest daughter is currently Green House Brand’s creative director—adding some healthy sibling rivalry.

We get back onto the topic of activism and Roskam’s role in changing the perception of cannabis.

“Being an activist and creating awareness for cannabis, together with great genetics, of course, was our main focus all the time,” Roskam says. “Giving seminars, doing interviews with CNN—it’s actually the package—what we try to show people is what makes us different. Also, our dispensaries are quite different from most dispensaries. It’s more of a smoke experience. We like people to sit down and enjoy themselves. The Dutch coffee shop system is the only system in the world where you’d see a Chinese guy, a Black guy, a white guy and an Eskimo all at one table, smoking a joint and sharing their social life. This, of course, is a really good thing, you know, to bring all these people together. And that’s one of the few places in the world where this happens.”

For more than 15 years, Roskam had an idea brewing for a show that investigated cannabis on a global scale, enlightening viewers while removing those all-familiar, outdated stigmas associated with the plant. Launching in 2008, the show became a series of documentaries called Strain Hunters. 

Together with his close friend and GHSC master cultivator, Franco Loja, Roskam would spend the better part of two decades scouring the faraway mountains and jungles of the world, searching for unique and prized landrace genetics. More often than not, they were successful.

Landrace cannabis is distinguished by the fact that it’s unique to its geographical origin and adapts to the land and environment in which it develops. Landraces can be utilized for breeding, cross-pollination and the creation of new genotypes.

For the uninitiated, Strain Hunters remains must-see TV. There are some genuinely sketchy and scary times that show the astonishing lengths Roskam, Loja and their intrepid team have gone to secure those sought-after genetics.

I ask about what his most prized landrace is, and he says, without a moment of hesitation, “Punto Rojo.” Then, he holds up his phone once again, scrolling for a moment before showing me an enormous Christmas tree-like cannabis plant. It’s nothing short of amazing.

“We’re planting 9,000 [cannabis] trees in Sudan and South Africa with our partner,” Raskam says. “Because this variety comes from Colombia, which is humid, this plant has outperformed any other plant in the rainy season. When you harvest there’s a lot of rain, so you need something that’s adaptable. And so yeah, I’d say for now that’s our strongest landrace and we’re crossing that with a lot of really nice plants. As a matter of fact, we’re coming out with one special one very soon—a Watermelon Zkittlez x Cloudwalker (Punto Rojo x Mendobreath)—it’s going to be awesome.”

I was curious if Roskam had ever truly feared for his life on the expeditions over the years.

“Look, it’s very dangerous,” he says seriously. “There are some things I can’t speak about because they’re still extremely dangerous. There are some episodes [of Strain Hunters] that haven’t been broadcast because things went out of control. Anything can go wrong. I always warn my team that guns and drunken soldiers are dangerous, but the most dangerous thing is a very little animal you cannot see. It could be bacteria, it could be Ebola, could be Dengue, could be Malaria.”

The Strain Hunters crew is led down a river in South Africa.

In 2016, the Strain Hunters crew was filming in the Democratic Republic of Congo, searching for new genetics while also learning how CBD can be used to treat cerebral malaria, a preventable condition that kills more than 405,000 people a year when the unthinkable occurred.

Tragically, Loja contracted malaria in the Congo and succumbed to the aggressive disease on January 2, 2017. His passing was a devastating shock to Roskam and the Green House family and the tremors were felt by the cannabis community around the world. In March 2017, VICE on HBO featured Kings of Cannabis: Congo, which was Franco Loja’s last appearance before he died.

“How dangerous is it?” Roskam continued. “Well, Franco died. There are just a lot of things that can go wrong. It’s a mission. It’s always scary. But it’s my goal to create awareness on this planet and I put my life up for it. Franco put his life up for it, and I’ll put my life for it. My kids sometimes say to me, ‘Shut up, Papa,’ but they understand. I say, ‘Listen, maybe I don’t come back (from one of the dangerous expeditions). I wrote a letter to all of my children and they’ll get it if and when I don’t come back. It is what it is, but we—all of us—are fighting for something important. And someone has to do this.”

The late Franco Loja and Roskam stand in front of a building in South Africa.

To honor Loja’s legacy, a tribute appears on the Green House Seed Co. website: “Franco’s high-risk, fast-paced, full-gas career was only just taking off. He had invested all his time, money and passion into building up a future for himself and his children, while helping people in places such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His children were everything to him, and he was an amazing father.”

I wanted to know what Roskam thought Loja’s enduring legacy should be.

“Passion,” he tells me, softly. “Passion.”

So, what’s next? Roskam says he’s working on more adventures and what he reveals next is another gem of information—an as-yet-unnamed venture between GHSC and Cookies.

“The most spectacular adventure is the announcement that, with my friend Berner, we’re going to take care of Cookies seeds worldwide,” he says, smiling from ear to ear, referencing the red-hot brand owned by the Bay Area entrepreneur, rapper and newly minted billionaire, Berner. “We’re going to make that in our facilities in the US, Colombia, Denmark—everywhere.”

Oh, but there’s more.

For an episode of Marijuana Mania, Cookies co-founders Jai and Berner, Damian Marley and Strain Hunters’ co-founders Arjan Roskam and Joa Helms swap anecdotes in Nine Mile, Jamaica.

Roksam, Dust Lion and Joa Helms, CEO of Green House Coffeeshops, recently traveled to Jamaica to create a new brand with Damian Marley, youngest son of the legendary Rastafarian singer Bob Marley, called Hurb. Talk about the knights of the roundtable.

Roskam says this important new partnership “will include dispensaries and some very special strains.” The end goal, he says, is to create a breeding project that incorporates strains from Jamaica as well as Cookies’ genetics. Mind officially blown.

“Maybe this is the time for a new era in cannabis,” Arjan Roskam says, with a telling, mischievous smile.

The King of Cannabis is still clearly setting the agenda for the rest to follow. Exactly what leaders do.

This story was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

The post An Audience With the King appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Jamaican Reggae Artist Protoje Creates an Energetic Feedback Loop Through Music

Oje Ken Ollivierre—the Jamaican artist known professionally as Protoje—is a thoughtful, contemplative individual—a thinker, if you will, who is consciously aware of his role as a creator and his responsibility as a creator to share what’s most authentic to him with the rest of the world.

Born into a family of music-minded parents, music started as a hobby for Protoje and eventually took form as a career once he made the conscious decision to go all-in and dedicate himself to his craft. His latest album Third Time’s A Charm acts as a culminating expression of his life experiences and feelings that have brought him through to the present moment.

When we connect over Zoom, Protoje is in a happy, expressive mood—having just taken a quick puff—and from a free and open mindset begins to share his journey through music, his relationship with cannabis, how he channels a higher power for his music’s creation, and how that higher power gives life to further music creation, performance, and sustenance.

High Times: Growing up in a musical family with both parents being musicians, was music always the path for you growing up in that environment?

Protoje: I really wanted to be an athlete first. I wanted to be a long distance runner and was obsessed with basketball in my teens. I always loved music and was involved in it, but it was like a hobby to me.

A little bit before I left high school I started to realize that the idea of getting a job or working somewhere was not sitting well. Not realizing the work it would take to be an artist, I thought maybe I could become one. Everyone was telling me how good I was and I could see how they were reacting [to my music]. So I declared that I was going to be an artist and that was what I was going to do [for “work”].

What was it about the artistic lifestyle that you realized was different from running, different from having a nine-to-five—what was it that really captivated your spirit?

To be honest, it was people’s reactions to hearing me DJ or doing other stuff. I just thought it would be a good way for me to express myself. I think where I felt most natural and felt most happy and content was writing music and singing it to my friends. I would get very excited and it’s what brought me joy.

So there’s a fulfillment element then that being on stage and expressing yourself provides, perhaps in a way that other occupations may not.

I think so. As simple as it is, I just didn’t want to have to report to anyone. I grew up with parents who always helped me feel very free. They had such busy schedules that they just kind of let me set my schedule, so it was very hard for me to adjust to operating on someone else’s clock. Doing so takes away my joy, so I knew that while I wanted to pursue music, I’d also have to do it under my own label. I just really didn’t want to have to report to someone, so I built my entire creative process around that.

When expressing yourself through music, is there a mission that you’re trying to fulfill or is it just an expression of yourself and music happens to be the tool to do that through?

I’ve found that the most honest way to approach music is to speak about experiences and the meaning that I derive from the way that I see things. That to me is me being my most honest self, and doing that is the most important thing for me musically.

So I may feel some way about something and I think the feeling is valid. After sitting with that feeling, I express it. A year later, I may be going through something else, but once it is valid and honest in me, I express it.

The overarching theme is to appreciate—to live in the moment of gratitude—to make use of the time that you have as best as you can. That’s really what I try to do as an individual. Because of that, that’s what my music tends to focus on.

When I listen to my music—look, I have to sing these songs everyday. I’m the only person who has to sing these songs one thousand times. I’m hearing myself sing this stuff all the time. So [the songs] need to be something that resonates with me and that I one hundred percent believe in. That they’re authentic from me. Otherwise, I’m going to hear it and I’m going to cringe.

The other day I had a show that was really hard to get up for energy-wise. I was tired, everyone was tired. I started the show singing “Deliverance” and said “Choosing how I spend my time is completely by design / They don’t even see the trying / All they see is dollar sign / All I make is sacrifice.” I was listening to those lyrics and I got an energy [that woke me up]. And this is why I [create] this way because it helps power the whole thing. Lyrics help power the whole thing of me being an artist.

So it’s almost like a really cool feedback loop. You’re channeling from a higher power, that channeling then leads to the creation of the music, and then the music gives you the energy you need to perform the music.

It’s like if you plant some lettuce yourself and you grow it and it comes up. You take it, and you wash it off, then you cook it, and you bring it out to the table for dinner. You break off a leaf of it and you taste the lettuce. You’re reminded of when you planted it and you get to experience it one more time and it’s a loop. It’s just like that, that’s [how making music] feels to me.

Photo by Yannick Reid

Was there a moment after deciding to focus on music where you realized the path could be both the vehicle to express yourself and provide you with sustenance?

I committed to music very early but it was very hard to get traction. I think when my first single “Arguments” came out and it came out and did well, I was like, “Wow, I’m an artist.” People were starting to recognize that I made music. I knew I had the skills and I knew I had the talent but my main problem was that I thought it was owed to me because I was so talented. I was like, “I’m talented, so why isn’t this person recording me? Why am I not getting the respect?”

Once I realized that nobody owed me anything and that talent alone had nothing to do with it—sure, I’m talented, but many people are talented—I began to realize I needed determination and discipline, and after that, everything started to happen fast.

Once you realized you weren’t owed anything, what was the shift in your actions that led to success?

The shift was immediate. I was at a friend’s playing video games and I went outside and started to smoke. Anxiety came over me like I’d never felt before. I didn’t understand. I knew I wanted to be an artist, I had a song that I was recording, but I was hanging out playing video games with friends during the day. I could tell you how many points Kobe had in the game the night before. But what was I doing every single day [to achieve my goals] apart from writing some songs at night? What else am I doing?

So I stopped everything that day. I got rid of my PlayStation, I stopped watching TV, I stopped everything else I was doing and I just started doing music all of the time. I started to bring my song to every radio station and go to every live event that they had where it was possible for me to get in front of people. Every day, everything I started doing was centered around “how is this helping me get closer to my goals?” I did that for a little and then everything started to happen when I stopped doing everything else. It was wild.

You went all-in and took the action of consistently showing up for yourself. And it sounds like, from that place, good things happened.

G, I’m telling you. In life, I’ve never seen it not work to really just narrow in on exactly what you’re trying to do and work towards it every day. I don’t see how that’s possible to not get closer to your goal if you work towards it every day. Once I realized that, everything changed.

That’s why I tell artists that I work with, “You want this and you want that, but have you done today to get there?”

From that day [of my realization] to now, no matter what it is that I’m doing, every day I do something that is helping me get towards where I am trying to go.

And you’ve had the positive feedback from the universe to validate that way of living.

I know that if I stay up another hour and send out another hundred emails today instead of tomorrow, I’m twenty-four hours closer to getting where I’m trying to go. That’s how I operate.

How do you protect your energy from getting burnt out?

The people around me will joke that I have an obsession or that I need to get hobbies, but I think it’s a balance. I have my family and my daughter, who give me a lot of relief. My family knows that I work really hard because I’m trying to do as much as I can do in as short a time as I can because I don’t want to be out here doing this forever.

I can spend five hours working feverishly on my craft today and then I have ten hours extra that I can use to go to the beach, I can hangout with my daughter, the whole family can chill and watch a movie or whatever—but the thing is, when I’m doing these things, the way my mind works is that these are all life experiences that are going into the process of me thinking. In turn, this leads to my music. You understand? It’s not focusing on being in the studio all of the time or recording all of the time, because that will burn you out. It’s living, experiencing, feeling.

Movies are a big thing for me and my writing because movies really make me feel. To someone else, watching a movie is time off—which it is for me, too—but at the same time, my mind is working and I’m getting ideas. So I’ve found a way to use it all as creativity.

Photo by Yannick Reid

In terms of creativity, what’s the inspiration behind your new album Third Time’s The Charm and what do you hope people take from it?

The album is an extension from [the album] In Search of Lost Time. It picks up right where it left off. Everything was coming from things that I was going through and experiencing. As I said, I communicate best with the world by talking about the things I’m going through and people can relate to it in some way and get something from it for their lives, as opposed to being preachy. That’s something I’m not interested in—being preachy and telling people what’s right, how you should live your life. I’m about sharing my experiences as you would when you meet someone and you’re talking to them.

Think about it: If you meet someone and you’re speaking to them and they say, “Hey look, you should live like this, this is wrong, this is the way,” or whatever, you’re not going to be receptive to the ideas and concepts I’m coming with, right? It’s the same thing musically. I’m just making music and communicating and sharing my thoughts and ideas. Maybe you connect with it, maybe it makes you come up with your own great idea.

I love this album, I really connect with it on a personal level. I love the words that are being said, I love the sounds that are playing behind the words. I love the way the album is mixed, I love the art. The visuals are possibly my most favorite that I’ve ever done. Everything is precisely how I want it to be and that’s what matters to me the most, knowing I’ve done exactly what I’ve wanted to do. However that’s perceived is up to people, and whatever that is, I’ll definitely be able to accept it.

It sounds like you’re consciously making art for yourself which enriches your life, and there’s an awareness of the power it has to also potentially enrich the lives of many others.

I like to think about van Gogh back in the day with an open canvas and him listening to his mind saying “Make this stroke with the brush here, use this color there.” I’d like to think he wasn’t there thinking “I wonder if someone is going to like this color here,” or “I wonder if people are going to like the way I do the grass here.” I don’t think that’s what people are doing when they’re making art. You have a picture in your head and you’re trying to put it as good as you can on the canvas. I feel like I’m hearing the songs in my head and all I’m trying to do is get it as close to how it sounds and looks in my head. When I really break it down to that, it takes away all of the pressure from making art. It helps you as an artist to not be anxious and feel like a hostage.

How does cannabis help you with this kind of creative process?

I have a very interesting relationship with marijuana. Sometimes, it gives me feelings that I’m not too comfortable with. Sometimes it makes me very anxious. Sometimes it makes me doubt myself. Sometimes it makes me question a lot of things. There’s lots of different reactions that I get from it depending on what I’m going through and how I’m feeling within myself.

When I smoke it causes me to overthink a lot and overanalyze. When I’m going through it, I feel anxious, but when I come out of it, I usually find something positive from the experience that I was having. So I’ve even learned to even accept the anxiety at times when it comes.

When I’m creating music—especially when I’m producing or recording another artist—and I’m smoking, it makes me able to spend as much time as needed without losing my focus. When I’m writing, marijuana will help me to be locked in and not be as easily distracted with outside elements. So creatively, I do think it helps me a lot, but I try to make sure that I’m not high all the time either because my conscious brain without being on marijuana is also such an effective thing and it brings its own qualities. It’s about finding the balance as with everything.

Follow @protoje and check out http://www.protoje.com for tickets, tour dates, and his latest album Third Time’s The Charm.

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House Committee Approves Two Bills To Expunge, Seal Pot Records

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday advanced two pieces of legislation aimed at providing relief to individuals with marijuana convictions on their records.

NORML reported that the Democratic-led committee “voted in a bipartisan manner to advance the Clean Slate Act and the Fresh Start Act,” both of which seek to redress prior pot busts and arrests.

The Clean Slate Act “establishes a framework for sealing records related to certain federal criminal offenses,” according to the bill’s summary, while requiring the courts to “automatically seal records related to (1) a conviction for simple possession of a controlled substance or for any nonviolent offense involving marijuana, or (2) an arrest for an offense that does not result in a conviction.”

It also states that “an individual who meets certain criteria may petition to seal records related to a conviction for other nonviolent offenses.”

The Fresh Start Act, meanwhile, would authorize “the Department of Justice to award grants for states to implement automatic expungement laws (i.e., laws that provide for the automatic expungement or sealing of an individual’s criminal records).”

According to NORML, the grants would amount to “tens of millions of dollars in federal funding to help states facilitate the automatic expungement of convictions for marijuana violations among other offenses.”

The measures drew support from both Democrats and Republicans on the committee, underscoring the growing bipartisan support for cannabis reform in the United States.

Republican Rep. Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania joined his Democratic colleague, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware, in sponsoring the Clean Slate Act.

“We need to pass this legislation so those individuals have a chance to fully partake in the economy and also reduce recidivism rates,” Reschenthaler told Pittsburgh public radio station WESA earlier this month.

Reschenthaler’s colleague on the Judiciary Committee, Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, applauded the panel’s approval of the Fresh Start Act.

“Even those who commit non-violent offenses can face a life sentence. That’s because the stigma of a conviction can be permanent, following you around for the rest of your life. Employment, housing, education — the very things necessary to get a ‘fresh start’ — can all be denied on the basis of a conviction in your past. The collateral consequences of conviction in our criminal justice system are far reaching and fall disproportionately on people of color,” Cohen said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Allowing people who have made a mistake, and have paid their debt to society, to wipe the slate clean is essential if we want a more just criminal legal system,” Cohen added.

The two bills are strongly backed by cannabis reform groups like NORML, whose political director, Morgan Fox, said the “need for this kind of legislative assistance is even more pressing considering the racially and economically disparate nature of enforcement over the past half a century.”

“Beyond the actual penalties incurred under law, a simple marijuana possession conviction can also carry with it a host of lifetime collateral consequences. In many cases, it is the modern-day equivalent of the ‘Scarlet Letter’ and it can negatively impact a person’s ability to function and thrive in society,” Fox said in a statement. “At a time when most Americans want to end marijuana prohibition and nearly a majority of people now reside states where cannabis is legal, it makes no sense to continue punishing adults and robbing them of the opportunity to fulfill their potential for behavior that in many cases is no longer a crime.”

“Members of the House have shown a commitment this term to advancing cannabis reform,” added Fox. “They have repeatedly affirmed that the time has come to start repairing the harms caused by prohibition and enact modern, sensible cannabis policies that are supported by a supermajority of voters. The Senate has the opportunity to follow suit by passing substantive legislation that can change peoples’ lives for the better and facilitate immeasurable opportunities — especially in marginalized and unfairly targeted communities — but the time for them to act is quickly running out.”

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Canadian Government To Review Cannabis Legalization

Canada’s Liberal Party government launched a review of the country’s legalization of cannabis on Thursday, four years after the country became the world’s second to legalize marijuana for adults. Canada legalized marijuana with the passage of the Cannabis Act in 2018, five years after Uruguay became the first country to legalize cannabis for adults in 2013.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said at a press conference on Thursday that the review will help legislators and other policymakers determine if cannabis legalization is meeting the needs and expectations of Canadians.

“Through this useful, inclusive and evidence-driven review, we will strengthen the act so that it meets the needs of all Canadians while continuing to displace the illicit market. I look forward to receiving the panel’s findings,” Duclos said.

The Cannabis Act mandated that a review of cannabis legalization be conducted three years after the law was passed. The review, which is being initiated one year later than required by the legislation, is required to study the impact of cannabis legalization on Indigenous people, the cultivation of cannabis in housing complexes, and the health and cannabis use patterns of young people.

“Our government legalized cannabis to protect the health and safety of Canadians, particularly minors, and to displace the illegal market,” added Duclos.

Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, a co-chair of the all-party cannabis caucus, said that the review can help reveal the shortcomings of the groundbreaking Cannabis Act, which made Canada the first country in the northern hemisphere to legalize recreational marijuana.

“We have been, in many ways, world leaders in advancing sensible drug policy and legalization and regulation of cannabis is an example of that,” said Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who co-chairs the all-party cannabis caucus, at a press conference. “But we didn’t get it perfect, we didn’t get it exactly right for the first time.”

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett agreed, noting the review is designed to focus in part on the mental health implications of cannabis legalization, particularly among the young.

“Young people are at increased risk of experiencing harms from cannabis such as mental health problems, including dependence and disorders related to anxiety and depression,” said Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett. “While a lot of progress has been made on the implementation of the Cannabis Act and its dual objectives of protecting public health and maintaining public safety, we need to assess the work that has been done and learn how and where to adjust to meet these goals.”

Protecting Youth and Displacing the Illicit Market

When Canada’s Liberal government passed cannabis legalization in 2018, the stated goals of the Cannabis Act included protecting the health of Canadians and displacing the country’s illicit marijuana market. The review will help officials determine how effectively the legislation is meeting those goals so far.

“We are going to displace the illicit marketplace. It’s only a matter of time and you are going to, over the next three years, five years and 10 years, see those numbers shift,” said Erskine-Smith. “The legal marketplace will be where Canadians continue to turn.”

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce expressed support for the review, saying that the comprehensive evaluation would help foster the growth of the regulated cannabis market.

“However, to effectively displace the illicit market and protect the public health and safety of all Canadians, law enforcement, businesses, industry and all levels of government will need to continue to work together,” the Canadian Chamber of Commerce National Cannabis Working Group said in a statement.

The mandated review has been expanded to include an investigation of the social and environmental impacts of the Cannabis Act, the legalization and regulation of medical marijuana and the effects of reform on minority communities and women. Erskine-Smith said that including the additional areas of focus in the review is responsible for the government’s failure to meet the three-year deadline specified in the legislation.

“Getting the scope of the review right was much more important than the timeline,” he said. “If we’d followed the legislation to a ‘T’ — both in relation to the three-year timeline, but also the considerations that are set out in the legislation — we would have missed a major opportunity to get this right.”

The review will be conducted by a panel of experts led by Morris Rosenberg, a former deputy minister of justice. The government has not yet named the remaining members of the review panel.

The panel will hear from members of the public, government officials, Indigenous groups, youth, cannabis industry representatives, and medical cannabis users. The panel will also hear from leaders in public health, substance abuse, law enforcement, and health care.

“I look forward to working with the panel and to providing evidence-based advice to ministers to strengthen this particularly important piece of legislation and advance public policy in this area in Canada,” Rosenberg said Thursday.

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Arkansas Supreme Court Signs off on Legalization Ballot Measure

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled late Thursday that voters in the state will have the opportunity to decide on a recreational marijuana proposal that will appear on this November’s ballot.

The decision ends a drawn-out dispute over the measure, which would legalize pot for adults aged 21 and older while also establishing a state-regulated marijuana market.

State officials, including Arkansas’ secretary of state, challenged the validity of the measure, which would be an amendment to the state’s constitution.

Activists submitted more than enough valid signatures for the proposal to qualify for the ballot, but the state Board of Election Commissioners rejected the measure, contending that the ballot title did not adequately explain the amendment to voters.

The group behind the proposal, Responsible Growth Arkansas, filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court, which made a preliminary ruling last month that the amendment should appear on the ballot, but held off on deciding whether the votes will actually count.

On Thursday, the court issued its final decision, ruling that the amendment is sufficient and rejecting the Board of Election Commissioners’ authority to deny the proposal in the first place.

As the Associated Press reported, the justices “rejected the board’s arguments for denying the measure” and “also struck down the 2019 law that empowered the board to certify ballot measures.”

According to local news station WREG, the majority opinion said that “the ballot title at issue is complete enough to convey an intelligible idea of the scope and import of the proposed amendment,” and that “Respondents and Intervenors have not met their burden of proving that the ballot title is insufficient.”

“The people will decide whether to approve the proposed amendment in November,” the opinion said.

Responsible Growth Arkansas celebrated the decision.

“We’re extremely grateful to the Supreme Court that they agreed with us and felt like it was a complete validation of everything we’ve done,” said the group’s attorney, Steve Lancaster, as quoted by the Associated Press. “We’re excited and moving on to November.”

The majority also said that the Board of Election Commissioners “has no discretion to determine whether to certify a ballot title,” according to WREG, and that “the Board had no authority to decline to certify the ballot title to the Secretary of State, and its action is without legal effect.”

“I am confident that Arkansans can read this ballot title and understand that a vote for the initiative is a vote in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana and that their decision could have a wide-ranging impact on current medical-marijuana laws and regulations and children. It is for the people—not this court—to exercise the right to amend the constitution, and our court must continue to preserve this first power of the people of Arkansas by not supplanting their decisions with ours,” wrote Justice Rhonda Wood in a concurring opinion, as quoted by WREG.

Another justice, Shawn Womack, “concurred in part with the majority’s opinion but also dissented,” according to WREG, saying that the “ballot title fails to sufficiently advise voters of the magnitude of the change and gives the marijuana industry greater leeway to operate with limited oversight in these areas.”

But Womack also said he’s “confident that Arkansans can read this ballot title and understand that a vote for the initiative is a vote in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana and that their decision could have a wide-ranging impact on current medical-marijuana laws and regulations and children.”

“It is for the people—not this court—to exercise the right to amend the constitution, and our court must continue to preserve this first power of the people of Arkansas by not supplanting their decisions with ours,” Womack said, as quoted by WREG.

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Reviewing the Cannabis Act

Justin Trudeau’s hashtag government is finally reviewing the Cannabis Act – a year late. They want to know: has cannabis legalization been successful? Not in the sense of whether it’s been working for those who buy, sell, and consume cannabis. No, according to the Liberal’s Cannabis Act, the review must focus on Indigenous people, home growing, and whether legalization has helped the children. After all, it was never about your right to your body. Post-COVID, it’s clear that freedom doesn’t […]

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New York’s Home Cultivation Regulations

As part of New York’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) meeting on September 20, 2022, the CCB passed a resolution to permit the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) to adopt revised regulations for home cannabis cultivation. To be clear, pursuant to the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), home cannabis cultivation is currently limited to medical cannabis.

Here’s our breakdown of the now-approved regulations. Generally speaking, these regulations are similar to what we’ve seen in other states that allow medical and homegrown cannabis

Who Can Cultivate Cannabis at Home?

Home cultivation is limited to:

  • Certified patients who are 21 years old or older, but only for personal use; and
  • Designated caregivers who are 21 years old or older, but only for certified patients who are either younger than 21 or physically unable to cultivate cannabis themselves. The regulations note that patients can only have one designated caregiver grow on their behalf.

Where can “Home Cultivated” cannabis be grown?

Only at the authorized person’s private residence.

How many plants can be grown at home?

  • Certified patients can grow up to three (3) mature plants and three (3) immature plants at any one time.
  • Designated caregivers can grow up to six (6) mature plants and six (6) immature plants at any one time.

Can home cultivated cannabis be sold?

No. But a certified patient or designated caregiver can transfer to another certified patient or designated caregiver, without compensation, up to three ounces of cannabis and up to 24 ounces of concentrated cannabis.

How does home cultivated cannabis need to be stored?

In a secure location within a private residence or its ground, with reasonable measures such that the cannabis is not readily accessible by anyone under the age of 21. The enumerated reasonable measures:

  • Conducting cannabis cultivation in an enclosed area not plainly visible from public view; and
  • Locking and storing cannabis in a manner that prevents theft, loss or access.

Can a designated caregiver receive any compensation from certified patients?

Only reimbursement for the designated caregivers actual costs of goods, material or utilities for which they have incurred expenses directly related to the cultivation of cannabis for the certified patient.

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This is just a high level summary of the home cultivation regulations. For any certified patients or designated caregivers interested in home cultivation, reach out to us directly here: https://harrisbricken.com/contact/.

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