Arizona Veteran Faces Prison Time for Treating Cluster Headaches with DMT

Damon Laetzsch (pronounced letch, like fetch) was arrested while making breakfast on August 11, 2021 at his home in Chandler, Arizona when police raided his house and found psilocybin mushrooms, DMT and a flask containing Naphtha, a chemical used to extract DMT. At the time of publication, he faces a potential prison sentence of 6 and a half years if he is convicted for possession and manufacturing of dangerous drugs.

Laetzsch, 44, says he uses tryptamines like psilocybin and DMT to treat cluster headaches, which are widely considered one of the most painful experiences a human being can undergo. DMT and psilocybin are extremely illegal in the state of Arizona, so Laetzsch is facing several years in prison for what he says is the only way to maintain his quality of life.

“It’s the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life,” Laetzsch said. “Nothing helps the headache as well as DMT when I’m actually having it. It will abort the headache immediately. A small hit will abort the headache for about an hour to an hour and a half. If I take a bigger hit it can last longer but some of the headaches last a few hours so I would have to take a few hits during that episode. But, I would be pain-free. It wasn’t even a psychoactive amount that I smoked to abort the headache.”

According to Laetzsch, a disgruntled ex-girlfriend tipped off the police that he had a mushroom grow in the house. Between that and his prior arrest record, that’s all it took to trigger a full-blown raid. The kicker here is that the ex-girlfriend who reported Laetzsch to the cops was apparently in his house weeks later at the time the cops came marching in.

“I had no idea man. Me and my ex-girlfriend split up because she was starting to get involved in fraud and shit. I found out so I kicked her out and she was pissed off I kicked her out. So, the next time she got in trouble, she was like ‘I got information on so and so,’” Laetzsch said. “I didn’t know that she had told on me so she would still come over from time to time.”

Cruel irony notwithstanding, Laetzsch represents a very real issue in the criminal justice system. He’s a veteran of the United States Army who came home from two deployments with very real medical issues for which he used cannabis. He faced felony charges almost immediately after coming home, years before the raid in question.

“That first case I [got] caught was in 2001, so I wasn’t even home from the military for a year when they fucking tried to send me to prison for a usable amount of marijuana,”  Laetzsch said, also indicating he had a firearm on him at the time. “I know it doesn’t matter for them but my doctor told me, they tried to give me a bunch of Xanax and painkillers for my chronic pain and anxiety and PTSD and I told them I’m not really big on pills and he told me ‘well you can just smoke marijuana but it’s illegal.’”

Laetzsch served two and a half years in prison for that, and if anyone’s wondering why such a harsh sentence was handed down to a military man who’s just come home, I need only remind you that this was Arizona in 2001, and as Laetzsch kindly reminded me, people were doing hard time for evidence as frivolous as cannabis seeds.

As a journalist, it is my job to give all necessary perspective and while I personally may be sympathetic to this case, Laetzsch is not the portrait of an innocent freedom fighter wrongfully accused of crimes he did not commit and I want to be clear about that. This man has led a lifetime of questionable decision-making. He served another four and a half years in prison later on for running a chop shop, not to mention he was arrested for DUI with his son in the car in 2013 and that would look awful to any jury in any state. It is also important to note here that I have been friends with their whole family for a long time so I’m more than a bit biased here. I’ve heard stories about the guy for years, all a bit stranger and more chaotic than the last. That said, I personally do not believe Laetzsch deserves to spend any more time in a cell than the seven years he already has just for using the means at his disposal to treat his symptoms according to research from documented, peer-reviewed scientific studies. 

A report from the National Library of Medicine found, with regard to cluster headaches: “These patients are in a desperate and vulnerable situation, and illicit psychoactive substances are often considered a last resort. There appeared to be little or no interest in psychoactive effects per se as these were rather tolerated or avoided by using sub-psychoactive doses. Primarily, psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide, and related psychedelic tryptamines were reportedly effective for both prophylactic and acute treatment of cluster headache and migraines.”

Several more studies have been published on the matter, all of which have come to the same general conclusion: people who suffer from cluster headaches, about 1 in 1,000 Americans according to one of the aforementioned studies, will do virtually anything to mitigate or avoid them and thusfar, psychedelics seem to be an effective way of doing that. Of course, because this is America and the vast majority of the country is still fighting Nixon’s drug war, people like Laetzsch face two equally unthinkable options: suffer through months of horrific pain year after year or take drugs and risk prison time.

Laetzsch is currently negotiating through plea deals and such but as it stands, due to his record, he could potentially face six and a half years in prison in a plea deal or go to trial later this Fall where the consequences could be far greater should the judge choose to convict him. Reasonable people can disagree on whether or not Damon Laetzsch is an upstanding member of the community. However, reasonable people cannot disagree that Laetzsch came home from the Army, got locked up for a personal amount of cannabis, and had his life derailed from that point on by the criminal justice system like so many others for something that 38 of 50 states have since legalized in some form or another. Cannabis aside, psychedelics like the ones Laetzsch was caught with are already being touted as miracle drugs by major pharmaceutical companies. Is it reasonable to say that maybe we should just cut the guy a break at this point in time? This humble journalist says fuck yes, please leave him alone and thank him for his service on your way out.

Those sympathetic to this case who wish to advocate on behalf of Laetzsch can send letters to:

Alcock & Associates PC Attn: Vernon Lorenz
2. N Central Ave
26th Floor
Pheonix, AZ 85004

The post Arizona Veteran Faces Prison Time for Treating Cluster Headaches with DMT appeared first on High Times.

Psilocybin Research Approved in Arizona Appropriations Act Budget

Arizona senators voted to approve a general appropriations act 2023-2024 on May 10. Within the appropriations bill is a multitude of funding proposals from the governor’s office, which includes everything from Alzheimer’s disease research ($4.1 million), a newborn screening program ($12 million), and the Arizona nurse education investment pilot program ($15 million), but it also includes $5 million earmarked for psilocybin research.

A health care bill, SB-1726/HB-2816, recently receive a hearing on May 10 as well, which shows what that $5 million in research would go toward “research grants for whole mushroom psilocybin phase one, phase two and 41 phase three clinical trials that are capable of being approved by the 42 United States food and drug administration…” The bill cites a number of medical conditions, including PTSD, symptoms of long COVID-19, depression, anxiety disorders, and nine more.

If passed it would instruct the Department of Health Services to open up applications for research, which would be awarded no later than February 1 of each year. The department would be limited to spending a maximum of 2% of the money for psilocybin grant research each fiscal year.

Research subjects would specifically include “veterans, first responders, frontline health care workers … and persons from underserved communities.”

Protections are also included for both the grant receiver as well as any employees working on a study, stating that they “may not be charged with or prosecuted for possession … of psilocybin when the person is working on the clinical trial.”

A psilocybin research advisory council would be tasked to manage the program to provide “recommendations to the governor, the speaker of the House of Representatives, the president of the Senate and the department on psychedelic-assisted therapy based on current federal and state research policy.” It would be made up of multiple key individuals, including a member who holds a federal license to study psychedelics and is a licensed physician, a military veteran, an Arizona law enforcement officer, and a professor or researcher who specializes in psychedelic studies.

On February 13, legislators unanimously passed a different psilocybin research bill in the House Military Affairs & Public Safety Committee, which would have given $30 million in grants to psilocybin researchers. “Today HB 2486 (clinical research; psilocybin; grants; appropriation) passed MAPS Committee by a unanimous vote of 15-0! Thank you to brave bipartisan lawmakers sponsoring this bill to study veterans & first responders! @KevinPayne4AZ @TJShopeforAZ @JenLongdon @TraversforAZ,” said Dr. Sue Sisley, who is well known for her research work on cannabis and psychedelics. HB-2486 has not received any further discussion as of this writing.

While cannabis studies continue to grow, the number of psilocybin research efforts have been growing. In February, city officials in Ferndale, Michigan voted to decriminalize mushrooms as well as other psychedelic substances such as DMT and ayahuasca, and Utah officials introduced a psilocybin bill. In March, Nevada lawmakers introduced a psilocybin and MDMA research bill, and the Missouri House of Representatives approved a psilocybin research bill.

On May 10, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that creates a psilocybin therapy pilot program, although he did so with a partial veto for specific sections. On that same day, the Connecticut House of Representatives approved a psilocybin decriminalization bill. 

Oregon is farthest ahead in terms of progress. Earlier this month, Oregon awarded its first license for a psilocybin service center, following the finalization of rules back in January. “This is such a historic moment as psilocybin services will soon become available in Oregon, and we appreciate the strong commitment to client safety and access as service center doors prepare to open,” said Oregon Psilocybin Services Section Manager Angie Albee.

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Jon’s Stone-Cold Cop List #37: Back Out West

Alright friends. On this beautiful morning—the morning of Hall of Flowers—I wanted to drop a surprise Cop List detailing a few more highlights that surrounded our favorite day of the year before I get lost in the sauce and forget about ‘em. Lots of great drops happened on or around 4/20, and despite being in New York for the holiday and upstate now for the Emerald Cup judges retreat yesterday & Hall of Flowers today, I couldn’t let these gems fall by the wayside.

While this one has several frequent flyers on it, it’s got several of my favorite picks ever as well, and a few fun bonus guys just for kicks. You know the drill. Maybe I’m getting old but I feel like I need to acknowledge that as much as I complain about the state of the larger industry and the overall sinking quality of products, the top guys just keep getting better.

As always, blow me up on twitter if you hate any of this, or just ping me with the new heat I should check out. My lungs are your lungs, and we’re all in this together.

Life Is Not Grape’s LameZ

Pictured: The Birria Pack. Not pictured: LameZ

You might’ve seen me tease this on my IG story earlier this year when he had finished his initial test batch (which was only 6 plants by the way—does it get any smaller batch than that?). I got excited, I jumped the gun. I’m sorry. It will probably happen again. BUT, my friends, fret not as the time has finally come to let the rest of the world into the fold. Fresh on the rec market, LING’s got a run of his original Z, that he’s dubbed LameZ, rather ironically because it’s anything but that. True to form he’s doing his whole emo thing, and I still have trouble believing this is the original Z because the structure on it is just too perfect, but you absolutely forget about the argument entirely once you smell and taste this flower. It’s as Z-lightful as any I’ve ever seen. It’s also true that Grape’s basically become my poquito hermano at this point, so you could call me bias in my decision that this is the current King of Z hill (heh heh, only teasing gents!), but ask yourself: does Jon really care about anything but the flower? I think we both know the answer to that question. Also shameless plug: gang’s dropping the Birria bundle (complete with a branded takeaway bag & container, it’s fkn perfect) this Saturday at GOAT Global in Westwood – pull up!

Planta’s Coffin Candy

Photo cred

Speaking of fkn superb flower (I know, I can’t believe I get to do this for a living either), this might be the LCG killer the market’s been waiting for. Doja called this ‘the candiest candy’ he’d ever smelt, and I agree so I’m taking it off instagram and publishing it on the record. It’s got the look the market wants, it’s got the smell – but the flavor, man! You don’t actually get to taste the sweetness in smoke like this very often. THIS is what everyone is looking for when they buy all that rerocked noise. Not to mention the launch kit for this one really touched my cold emo heart as the package was shaped like a coffin with an ounce miron jar laid up all pretty as if it was about to be put into its final resting place.

Squints’ Valley Girl OG

Courtesy Squints

From the candiest candy, to the OG-iest of OG. If you’re looking to taste a classic, look no further – the Valley Girl is ready to scratch that itch you’ve been feeling. Now I don’t have to tell y’all how much our OG’s love OG. They’ve told you enough. And while I typically lean more towards the fruity varietals, there’s a complexity to this gas that comes across in the flavor in a major way, and I haven’t been able to stop smoking it. While this one’s definitely heavy, and will surely add some drag to your step, this is an excellent way to wind down after a stressful day, as your cares will literally melt away as you sink further and further into your couch.

CGO’s Mini Hash Holes

Courtesy CGO

I told you you’d be hearing more about this guy soon. And being real, you’ve probably already tried his work even if you don’t realize, homies’ been killing it and rolling for the best of ’em for awhile now. I feel like every hash hole I’ve smoked lately that’s not rolled by Fidel has come from CGO. Not even just stuff I get at events, but in other brands’ tubes I’m not expecting as well (look out for the filter sticker). But today, today I’m here to talk about some innovation gang’s brought to the scene: mini hash holes! I’ll be honest, I didn’t think you could create the same experience in such a small package, but these are essentially the dogwalkers for hash heads. None of that typical dipped in disti & rolled in kief nonsense either, this is a true donut just in a micro-sized package – which lets be honest, is really more appropriate for most of the situations we’ve been smoking full eighths in. Also for the masses —we forget not everyone can hang like an OG—but now everyone can feel like one.

Terp Hogz’ Blooberry

Courtesy Terp Hogz

The gang that brought us the Original Z has had a portfolio of impressive flavors forever, and while their Blooberry isn’t exactly a new flavor in the arsenal, this new batch they got is finally dialed into absolute perfection. And when I say dialed in – this fkn plant smells and tastes just like ‘em, and hits you like a goddamn runaway train. Seriously, although this is an almost classic flavor in this community, I assure you, you haven’t tasted blueberry weed like this before, and when you do you’ll quickly be hooked. And stoned as hell – I thought this one would be good to hang in the afternoon and it completely derailed my day. In a good way though, like where I cuddled up with a puppy and watched a movie under a blanket.

Archive Seeds

Photo cred @erik.nugshots

As far as portfolios go, it’s hard to beat the bank Archive’s been amassing. While the seed game has been good business for decades, there are few dealers I’ve seen who can actually finish the process and deliver a product that can stand with the best of them—they mostly stick to their area of the market. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (!!) but this is absolutely not the case for Archive, as while they are indeed selling genetics, their packs also smoke up alongside any of the market leading cultivators. While their Moonbow has been in heavy circulation for awhile now, it’s got a timeless flavor, and is a regular favorite—especially whenever I’m at Astor Club in NYC. And while I’m primarily a flower guy, it’s definitely worth noting that the hash that comes from their flower ends up being some of the most memorable flavors I taste.

Banger Management

Courtesy Banger Management

I’m going to start this off by saying Preebz is the man, and I’m a general fan of pretty much any project he touches, but his latest iteration of Banger Management is truly something special. Holding it down for SoCal a bit further South than I typically travel, San Diego isn’t usually one of the first names people think of when it comes to bomb weed. Sure they’ve got it, but it’s not perceived as a mecca the way many cities and counties in the northern part of the state are. It’s got the scenic views, the beautiful weather —there’s just other things to focus on down there. That said, the homies are pumping out some mixed light work that can stand next to 90% of the indoor I see, and at a much more affordable price. While I certainly wouldn’t call these guys a ‘local brand’, what I can assure you is it’s run BY locals – so if you’re not trying to drive to LA to run up some overpriced hype pack, check in with your boys.

Exotic Matter’s Red Bullz #17

Courtesy Exotic Matter

Let me start off by saying that I know there’s pleeeenty of heat coming out of Michigan lately, but I’ve gotta take my hat off to the gang at Exotic Matter real quick. Jimi’s been singing the praises of Red Bullz for years now, and while I greatly value his opinion, this is the first expression of the varietal that I’m reallllly fucking with, and I’m not surprised that it came out of a market that’s frankly taking a lot more chances lately than most others. If you don’t already know, Michigan’s still in that super excited phase of the industry. Reminiscent of California’s 215 days, there’s a lot of experimentation going on and everyone’s still so stoked about the access that they’re making weed-everything. Now with that said, these guys are a perfect example of not having to reinvent the wheel to stand out… it just takes really good weed! With a super unique scent that’s hard to describe, but one that’s weirdly familiar at the same time. The nose to flavor transfer is perfect, and this is one of those rare instances where you can actually get more depth out of the taste than the smell. It’s a damn near perfect smoking experience. The high was a balanced mix of goofy and calm, so while I wouldn’t say it necessarily has the Red Bull effect, this is a great one for during the day.

Rythm – Queen Cola

Courtesy Rythm

Oh shit, is Jon about to give props to an MSO? I know, it’s rare, and I’ve said in the past that Illinois is a tough market right now. With limited licenses and a small number of operators typically more focused on scale than quality, it’s not exactly a flower-lover’s paradise at the moment. That said, Rythm introduced what I consider to be a great new product last month, and I haven’t seen this in other markets yet, so their praise is due. Sold in 14 gram packages, you can now buy a ‘Queen Cola’ – aka the premiere stalk of the plant. And it’s not broken off either – this extended mylar contains the entire stalk, and it’s been manicured to perfection. While I’m admittedly spoiled in the fact that I get to visit grows all the time, this is a very different approach to bringing the finished product to consumers, and will allow newbies to get a better feel for this plant we love so much. I’m excited to see how it performs in the market.

Puffco’s Arizona Cupsy

Courtesy Puffco

With maybe the best industry collab to date, for 4/20 this year Puffco released a new Cupsy in collaboration with none other than the iced tea tallboy kingpin, Arizona. Now, I grew up on 99¢ cans, so the fact that these guys are dipping their toes into the culture is especially rewarding for me, because they’ve silently participated in it for so long even if they didn’t realize. That said, to see them do it with a true New York brand like Puffco feels like the perfect marriage, and makes their entrance that much more impactful. I’ll admit, I wasn’t a big Cupsy user initially, but this freaking thing is so beautiful that it attracts you like a magnet.

Postmates Takeoutfit

Courtesy Postmates

This was the most surprising 4/20 stunt I saw this year, and it’s honestly tickled me since I found out about it. A perfect way to lean in without changing the language they’re speaking, for our favorite holiday this year Postmates released the ‘Takeoutfit’ – an outfit designed to serve as a table for your delivery order. Complete with warmer pads on the thighs, a fold out pouch to hide your smokeables & condiments (it came with a special Truff sauce in there already) and removable washable sleeve ‘napkins’, they claim with this fit you will ‘never dine at your dining table like never before’ and as convoluted as that tagline is, it’s entirely accurate. And as if there weren’t enough bells and whistles already, the fit was delivered in an oversized takeout box, and honestly was far more comfortable than expected. 

Skullcandy Haze Headphones

Courtesy Skullcandy

Every year for 4/20 Skullcandy releases a fun limited run headphone for the culture, and this year has got to be my favorite yet. Dubbed ‘Haze’, these almost fuzzy green headphones, with an attractive orange and purple trim, pay homage to one of the cornerstones of our culture, which is a particularly special category to daytime smokers like myself. It’s worth noting that while these are plastic, the sound quality was surprisingly impressive, and the companion app allows a slew of new functionality to help you stay hands-free on the go. Not going to lie, it’s pretty great being able to change the song without having to stop rolling your joint.

Dr. Pepper Strawberry Cream

This is obviously not a culture play, but have y’all tried this new jawn yet??? We’ve largely covered my soda addiction in the past, and while this one is INSANELY sweet, it’s also insanely delicious. The strawberry and cream terps are elite, and if you don’t mind driving down sugar road please put this thing in your mouth and tell me I’m wrong. Also – because last time I posted about one of these a homie got the sugar free version and then called me talking shit—you have GOT to get the full flavor. I am never attesting to anything diet. Love yourself, go full sugar.

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Higher Profile: Jane Fix, Director of Patient Services at Sol Flower Dispensaries

Jane Fix has been called a champion for the medical cannabis industry in Arizona since before the state had established a medical program. This year she was named one of the 30 Most Powerful Women in Cannabis by AZBigMedia, the umbrella for myriad mainstream publications in the state. 

Helping others get educated on the plant as medicine has been her calling for more than 50 years. The journey began in the Spring of 1969, just months away from the Summer of Love, when at 16, a friend’s grandmother introduced her to the plant.

“We called her Grandma Petey,” Fix shared. “She was probably in her 80s, and she was very matter of fact about using cannabis for her arthritis pain. She lived in a little house in the canyon up from the beach from Encinitas. She had a pile of cannabis in a Frisbie, sitting on a table in her kitchen-dining room. She grew it herself in the backyard, and taught me it was the only thing that helped the pain. Something I would hear from senior patients time and time again over the years.”

Grandma Petey was the first to demonstrate to Fix that “marijuana” was really medicine, and she was also the first person who taught she and her friends how to grow it. 

“I remember her son going back and forth from Mexico, with Grandma Petey being one of the first to grow sinsemilla, that we knew of,” she added.

Sinsemilla is known to come from southern Mexico, so it makes sense that Grandma Petey’s son visited frequently. The cultivar was said to be developed in the early 1950s, and was first brought to the states in the early 1960s, with folklore that includes singer/songwriter David Crosby (High Times archive, 1999). 

It’s poignant that Fix’s first sampling of weed was from a plant cultivated for high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that may have tested upwards of 15%, at a time when the average cultivars weighed in at around 3% of the then mildly psychoactive compound.

Merriam-Webster describes sinsemilla as a “… highly potent marijuana from female plants that are specially tended and kept seedless by preventing pollination in order to induce a high resin content,” with the Spanish translation literally meaning, “without seed.”

As a footnote, the late Southern Humboldt cannabis farmer and hybridizer, Lawrence Ringo, in cultivating what we know as high cannabidiol (CBD) hemp today, said his intent was to hybridize the THC in the plant back down to what he called the “God plant,” with THC testing below 4%. After nearly 15 years working on his pet project, as a bonus, the CBD tested upwards of 14%, giving us the more medicinal plant we have today.

Awe & Wonderment

Fix was raised in Southern California in Rancho Santa Fe, near the historic Del Mar Fairgrounds, where the equally historic horse racing track is located. She grew up in a house her father designed not far from the ocean.

She said cannabis induced “wonderment and awe,” opening her eyes to the natural world around her.

“I’d smoke a fatty and ride 20 miles to the beach just to sit and enjoy nature,” she said. “Cannabis also opened up my third eye, causing me to speak up for what I believed in at the time. At the height of the Vietnam War, my friends and I would lie down on the train tracks that ran along the ocean to Camp Pendleton in protest of the tanks going to the Navy yard in San Diego.”

When a newspaper reporter once asked her to compare alcohol to cannabis, she balked.

“The most I’ll give you is that some people treat it like a glass of wine at the end of the day,” she shared. “But comparing the plant to alcohol just proliferates the negative stoner image. Dennis Peron got in all kinds of trouble for saying it’s always medicine, but we know that it is.”

That’s not to say that Fix doesn’t also enjoy a good smoke to unwind after a busy day.

“My bottom line is that I love weed,” she laughed. “Yes, I’m educated on its efficacy, but at the end of the day I’m not unlike others who use the plant to chill. The fact that I get a good night’s sleep as a bonus makes it medicine.”

Courtesy Full Spectrum Creative

Path to the Plant

Fix also credits Grandma Petey in influencing her to study botany during college in California, with her mother encouraging her to work in a plant nursery.

“I was fascinated by the billions of plants that heal,” she said. “Everything I’ve done and learned has led me to the place I am now, helping people with a plant.”

At three-quarters away from finishing college her education was cut short, as her father passed away and she took over the independent phone directory publishing business he owned, until the company was bought up by competition.

Having been brought up riding horses, Fix said she went to Colorado and worked in the Rocky Mountains at a the Sombrero Stables in Estes Park for eight years until an injury ended that gig.

Once back in Arizona, Fix returned to college, earning a teaching degree in education from Arizona State University. After five years of teaching fourth grade she said she didn’t feel valued within the Arizona school system. 

She pondered moving to Montana, where she knew the school system was better, but as fate would have it, she decided to attend a four-day training session at Oaksterdam University – one of the first cannabis education facilities in the country, located in Oakland, California.

Advocating in Her Home State

When Arizona voters passed the Medical Marijuana Act, Proposition 203 in 2010, then-Governor Jan Brewer suspended dispensary licenses, allowing patients medical cards with no safe access points. The suspension also left those running collectives in limbo under constant threat.

“I was managing a caregiver collective,” she said. “It wasn’t unusual for the first two customers of the day to be Phoenix Police officers asking how the operation ran. We were always teetering on the edge of being arrested and shut down, while in the thick of helping patients with real illnesses, I might add.”

The caregiver collective model began in San Francisco, California, officially established in 1994, as The San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club; founded by the aforementioned Dennis Peron (known as the Father of Medical Marijuana), and his partner, John Entwistle.

The club was established in 1994, two years before California voters would approve Proposition 215 in 1996, making the state the first in the nation to officially recognize the plant as medicine. This is telling, as with most established medical cannabis programs, the caregiving was already taking place, waiting for legislators to catch up.

During this time, Fix said she was interviewed by a local TV station at the caregiver collective, where she was working. Then Maricopa County Attorney, Bill Montgomery, now a Justice on the Arizona Supreme Court, was in the studio and when shown her interview, the reporter asked him if Fix was in danger of being arrested, to which Montgomery responded, “I would arrest Jane Fix,” with the thought being, if she continued to operate.

“Montgomery fought the vote to legalize cannabis and was in opposition since his days as a county prosecutor,” she said. “When we got into it on air, he wanted to arrest me right there on the set in the middle of the interview.”

By December of 2012, Arizona allowed the first licensed dispensary to open in the City of Glendale, allowing safe access to patients, validating the work Fix and others had been doing.

Fix eventually became Director of Facility Operations for the collective she had worked for. But after realizing a need for a comprehensive patient services program for the cannabis industry as a whole, the position of Director of Patient Services was created for her.

Courtesy Full Spectrum Creative

No Quick Fix

Her education in botany, combined with her degree and experience in education, was the perfect fit for advancing the emerging cannabis industry in her home state. For the next four years she worked as Head of Patient Services for Monarch Dispensary in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Women Grow, a national organization of professional women in cannabis, voted Fix one of the Top Ten Influential Women in Arizona Cannabis in 2015; and by 2017, she had been named Director of Patient Services at Sol Flower Dispensaries, owned by Copperstate Farms; a position she still holds today, overseeing the patient care for five dispensaries, with more openings planned.

Fix said she’s witnessed help for many over the years with many illnesses and disorders, but, she’s also witnessed a wider array of ailments helped since cannabis has become more prevalent and understood as medicine.

“Five years ago 30% of our patients were coming for help with cancer,” she said. “Today, we are seeing more patients with neurodegenerative illnesses, like Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, and Alzheimer’s. It used to be that oncologists were getting on board for referrals, now neurologists are referring patients for cannabis use. Unfortunately, it’s used as a last resort when traditional treatments are exhausted because of the stigma.”

Fix added that she has no reason to lie or exaggerate about the efficacy of the plant, and if the patient wants to wait for science, that’s their prerogative.

“Ten out of ten Parkinson’s patents get relief after finding their dose, and that’s phenomenal,” she added.

As with any cannabis use for symptom control or serious illness, dosing, she said, is key.

“It all depends on the ailment and what condition the patient is in,” she advised. “Take Parkinson’s, ideally tincture is a good delivery. We always prefer a sublingual to see where their sweet spot is, starting with a five milligram dose and working up to 10, 15, or 20. Generally people are microdosing on the lower side, and working their way up as needed.”

Education can be found on Sol Flower’s Blog on its website, with ongoing workshops and guest speakers invited, lecturing on every aspect of the plant as remedy. Its monthly calendar is loaded with classes on yoga, meditation, tapping, sound therapies, and an ongoing 101 on the adult use of cannabis. Its Sun City dispensary opened in 2019, hosts a cafe and a classroom, with the goal of becoming a type of community center and place of education – hoping to break the mold of what people think a dispensary is.

As for the efficacy of the remedies, Fix said that the plant is becoming more accepted as patients are helped, with eight out of ten seniors never looking back, able to give up addictive and often damaging pharmaceuticals.

“From the first hit Grandma Petey gave me I never understood why cannabis wasn’t legal,” she concluded. “The positive effects it’s had on both my own physical and mental well-being alone have been obvious, and I’ve used it almost daily ever since. Now, with my years of helping others, I can honestly say, I still don’t understand why it’s not available everywhere for everyone.”

For more information on Sol Flower visit, 

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Arizona Advances Bill To Make Medical Cannabis Available to Patients with PTSD, Autism

A bill that would expand the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis and lower the cost of the treatment was approved by lawmakers in Arizona. 

The bill, SB 1466, was approved on Monday by a legislative committee. If it were to become law, the measure would result in a host of changes to the state’s medical cannabis law––perhaps most notably, the addition of autism and post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions. 

It was approved by a 7-2 vote by members of the Health and Human Services Committee Hearing.

The outlet AZMarijuana has a rundown of the key points of the bill, which includes: “Reduction of medical marijuana card costs to $50, with renewals every 2 years; 100% waiver of medical marijuana card costs to veterans; Adding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder into statute; Adds Autism Spectrum Disorder as a debilitating medical condition; Alignment of the advertising, packaging, and branding to match the rules in Smart and Safe; Requires protections for children – child resistant packaging, prohibits advertising attractive to children, adds advertising restrictions; Alignment of the definition of marijuana and marijuana products; Codifying the use of telehealth; Updating the details of the requirements in the QR Code and track/traceability; Provide a unified cover sheet for COAs to simplify consumer/patient experience; Removes a government-led lab testing council and replaces with a full public forum.” 

The group Arizona Dispensaries Association has strongly backed the legislation.

“ADA supports SB1466, which gives veterans the ability to acquire a medical marijuana card at no cost,” said Ann Torrez, executive director of the Arizona Dispensaries Association, as quoted by AZMarijuana. “Often veterans suffer from PTSD, insomnia, heightened anxiety and chronic pain. A free medical marijuana card gives veteran patients access to medical cannabis treatment for any of these common conditions.”

“The ADA’s primary mission is to promote and advocate for a safe, consumer-focused cannabis industry in Arizona,” Torrez continued. “We aim to continuously educate consumers on the importance of visiting only licensed dispensaries and consuming only THC and CBD products that have been lab tested and approved.”

The bill is being considered at a time when Arizona’s medical cannabis industry is enduring sluggish sales. 

In October, medical marijuana sales in the state amounted to a little more than $31 million, which was the eighth consecutive month of decline. 

Meanwhile, the state’s adult-use cannabis market, which launched in January 2021, continues to thrive.

In that same month, recreational cannabis sales in Arizona totaled $73.8 million, which was a new high.

As AZ Mirror reported earlier this year, the “crumbling of the medical program follows a pattern other states have seen with medical markets outpaced by recreational sales in the wake of legalization.”

The outlet reported in January: “The state collects 16% excise tax on recreational sales in addition to the standard sales tax; medical patients pay roughly 6% in state sales tax, levied as a Transaction Privilege Tax on cannabis outlets. Local jurisdictions charge an additional 2% or so for all marijuana sales. One-third of recreational taxes collected are dedicated to community college and provisional community college districts; 31% to public safety — police, fire departments, fire districts, first responders — 25% to the Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund, and 10% to the justice reinvestment fund, dedicated to providing public health services, counseling, job training and other social services for communities that have been adversely affected and disproportionately impacted by marijuana arrests and criminalization. The medical market has continued to bleed both sales and participants, following a trend in some states that have legalized adult-use cannabis years after establishing medical cannabis markets.”

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University of Arizona Students Launch Expungement Clinic

Student advocates from the University of Arizona at the James E. Rogers School of Law in Tucson are personally taking action to help people clear records for low-level cannabis-related convictions. A series of expungement event dates are unfolding, and students say that the initial process to get records cleared is fast.

KGUN 9 reports that locals, including one with a charge dating back to 1976, are taking advantage of the school’s expungement program. Cannabis-related charges that old are still impacting employment and other opportunities.

Law school students including Mia Burcham and Rebecca Caro Cohen are helping people expunge their records at expungement clinics on campus. To do this, they look up disposition dates which they said are usually available through public access court records.

“It’s a great feeling when someone walks out with a cleared record. It could be pretty life-changing,” Burcham said.

Burcham also provides expungement training and calls for volunteers for help. The training covers the appropriate forms and process, as well as clinic expectations and tips for client interaction. 

The expungement process is relatively fast. According to Burcham and Cohen, people don’t even need an I.D. to get a record expunged. All they need to know is the date when they received the charge or arrest and where.

Some of the oldest charges, however, aren’t on any computer system and take longer to process. When that happens, petitioners seeking expungements must contact the court directly and ask for a records search. 

“We really hope when people come in that we’ll be able to get them out the door with a completed petition and so we aren’t able to do that which is frustrating,” Cohen said.

The next round of expungements is scheduled to take place on March 25 at the law school. They said if someone gets denied, they work with the Arizona Marijuana Expungement Coalition to provide free legal help to people.

If someone cannot make it to the University of Arizona clinic in Tuscon, they can visit this website to sign up for an expungement. It typically takes about one to two months total to find out whether someone got their record expunged.

Arizona residents with low-level cannabis convictions can have their records wiped clean under a state expungement program launched on July 13, 2021. The expungements for minor cannabis convictions are thanks to Proposition 207, the 2020 ballot initiative to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older that was approved by 60% of Arizona voters.

Under the program, people with low-level convictions for possessing, transporting, or consuming 2.5 ounces or less of cannabis, of which no more than 12.5 grams can be a cannabis concentrate or extract, are eligible to have their records expunged. 

People with convictions for possessing, cultivating, processing, or transporting up to six cannabis plants at their primary residence can also apply to clear their records. Expungements can also be issued for convictions for possessing, using, or transporting paraphernalia related to the consumption, cultivation, and processing of cannabis.

People who are eligible for expungement are required to petition the courts to have their records cleared. Help is also available from other organizations including Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM), which has been offering expungement clinics through its Project Clean Slate initiative.

Arizona’s most populous county took an early lead. The Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County granted 3,643 petitions for expungement of cannabis-related charges since the process started, according to an Aug. 30, 2021 press release.

Law students with the know-how are proving to be helpful in clearing records under Arizona’s expungement program.

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Arizona Weed Sales Top $1 Billion in 2022

Cannabis sales in Arizona exceeded $1 billion dollars in 2022 as the state’s recreational marijuana market experienced strong growth in its second year of sales. Total weed sales came to $1.4 billion last year, according to data from the Arizona Department of Revenue, an amount roughly equal to the cannabis sales recorded in 2021.

Adult-use cannabis sales for 2022 reached $950 million, soaring to 70% of the state’s total marijuana sales for the year. Sales of medical marijuana were down significantly over the previous year, however, dropping to just over $500 million in 2022. 

Arizona’s recreational marijuana retailers closed 2022 with the strongest month of the year in December, ringing up about $86.6 in adult-use cannabis sales, up slightly from the $85.8 million recorded the month before. Sales of medical marijuana continued the downward trajectory prompted by the legalization of recreational cannabis, dropping slightly from $31.9 million in November to $31.1 million for the last month of 2022.

Arizona legalized recreational marijuana in 2020 with the passage of Proposition 207. Known as the Smart and Safe Act, the ballot measure was approved by 60% of the state’s voters. Licensed sales of recreational marijuana began in the state on January 21, 2021, less than three months after the ballot measure succeeded at the polls.

A separate ballot measure, Proposition 203, legalized the medicinal use of cannabis in Arizona in 2010 with just over 50% of the vote. The first licensed medical marijuana dispensary in the state began serving patients on December 6, 2012. Combined, the state’s medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis retailers have sold a total of $2.9 billion since recreational marijuana sales began two years ago.

More Reforms Still Needed in Arizona

Cannabis advocates in Arizona say that the state has made significant strides in reforming the state’s marijuana policy. But while sales have been strong the first two years of recreational marijuana sales, continued reform at the state and federal levels will be needed for the cannabis industry to become a major contributor to the state’s economy.

“We don’t see SWAT teams busting in the doors of dispensaries,” Aaron Smith, CEO of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said late last year. “But we do have problems with not being able to take tax deductions like a normal industry, or being able to have interstate commerce, which really creates a barrier to entry for a lot of folks.”

Despite the challenges, Smith says that Arizona is becoming a model for successfully transitioning to a regulated cannabis economy.

“Cannabis is used across demographics, boomers and millennials, and Gen Z, people over 21 are using responsibly and we’re glad to see that,” Smith said. “Arizona law is by and large working well.”

The legalization of cannabis has marked the creation of a new stream of tax revenue for the state’s coffers in Arizona. Tax revenue in December alone totaled nearly $23 million, bringing the total marijuana taxes collected by the state in 2022 to almost $270 million.

The state collects a 16% tax on recreational marijuana sales in addition to approximately 6% in sales tax. Medical marijuana patients pay only sales tax on their cannabis purchases. Local jurisdictions add additional taxes of about 2% to marijuana sales.

About a third of cannabis tax revenue collected in Arizona is reserved for community college and provisional community college districts, while 31% is dedicated to police, fire departments, fire districts and other first responders. A quarter of state marijuana taxes go to the Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund, while 10% is reserved for the justice reinvestment fund, which supports public health services, counseling, job training and other social services for communities that have been adversely affected and disproportionately impacted by decades of marijuana prohibition.

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Weed Sales on Super Bowl Sunday Decrease in 2023

An estimated 113 million viewers watched Super Bowl LVII to see if the Philadelphia Eagles or Kansas City Chiefs would win this year (the second-most watched since Super Bowl XLIX in 2015). Among those viewers were countless cannabis consumers, but cannabis sales took a slight dip in comparison to last year.

A cannabis checkout purchase averages at around $84.61, but sales from this past weekend saw a 4% drop in sales.

According to data collected by Chicago-based Fyllo, pre-rolls were the most popular products purchased this weekend at 37% of sales. In a statement to Forbes, Fyllo founder Chad Bronstein explained that the reason pre-rolls sold so well is because they are “the cheapest product in dispensaries.”

“We see this sensitivity to pricing most significant among persons aged 25 to 75, where consumer spending this year around the Super Bowl decreased significantly,” Bronstein added. Among age demographics, Fyllo also found that Gen Z consumers purchased rose considerably on Feb. 12, especially with buyers between 21 to 24 (a 10% increase from that age group).

The second most popular product category was described as “dispensary gear” by Fyllo, which saw a 20% increase this year. This was followed by “plants” at a 200% increase, and beverages at a 39% increase. Both topicals and edibles dropped in sales, with a respective 36% and 25% decrease. Bronstein believes that this is “potentially a response to pricing, driven by higher manufacturing costs, especially for those looking to optimize the cost of their high.”

Fyllo also found that while west coast sales dipped, eastern and southern states’ cannabis sales increased. Sales in Florida increased significantly by 27%, while Maine sales increased by 17%, and Arkansas increased by 7%.

While cannabis sales dropped slightly in previous years, it didn’t hamper the cannabis-related festivities of offered in Arizona where the Super Bowl took place this year. 

Trulieve Cannabis Corp.’s recent move into Arizona led with the launch of Ricky Williams’s Highsman brand. “Our expansion into Arizona is made possible through our retail partnership with Trulieve, and Abundant Organics, whose organic living soil cultivation techniques produce some of the cleanest and most flavorful flower I’ve tried,” Williams announced last month. “Both partners clearly see the Highsman vision and share the same enthusiasm for physical and mental healing as I do. Highsman is for anyone seeking greatness, mental and spiritual well-being.”

Trulieve’s CEO, Kim Rivers, was proud to partner with the former NFL player. “Trulieve is excited to launch this limited-time exclusive partnership with legendary NFL player Ricky Williams in Arizona, just weeks before the Super Bowl will be hosted in the state,” said Rivers. “Ricky was well-known for his belief in the power of cannabis during his playing days, and the Highsman brand reflects his values and passion for cannabis. We are proud to launch Highsman products in the Arizona market.”

HARA Brands partnered with Rolling Stone Live this weekend to celebrate the Super Bowl as well. The brand’s CEO and co-founder, Bryan Gerber, expressed his excitement for what this means for the industry. “We are extremely proud to represent the cannabis community at such a high-profile event during one of the biggest weekends in sports and entertainment,” said Gerber. “It’s a testament to how far this industry has come, and we couldn’t be more excited to be part of this exclusive experience alongside some of the most successful brands and talented individuals.”

WNBA star athlete Brittney Griner attended this year’s Superbowl with her wife Cherelle Griner. Following a 10-month battle for her freedom after being imprisoned in Russia for possessing a small amount of cannabis, Brittney was recently named Arizonan of the Year by Arizona Republic.

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Highsman Launches in Arizona Ahead of Super Bowl LVII

The hotly anticipated Super Bowl LVII game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs isn’t the only thing kicking off this weekend in Arizona. In partnership with Trulieve, former NFL running back and Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams is launching his cannabis lifestyle brand, appropriately called “Highsman,” in dispensaries across the Grand Canyon State.

Founded in 2021, Highsman features an innovative lineup of cannabis products and covetable lifestyle apparel. Williams’ own popularity combined with the brand’s top-shelf products have been a winning combination. Highsman has quickly grown into a multi-state brand, with Arizona being the latest market. 

Progressive Partnerships

Highsman partnered with Abundant Organics to bring premium cannabis to Trulieve and Harvest dispensaries across Arizona.

“Trulieve is excited to launch this limited-time exclusive partnership with legendary NFL player Ricky Williams in Arizona, just weeks before the Super Bowl will be hosted in the state,” said Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve. “Ricky was well-known for his belief in the power of cannabis during his playing days, and the Highsman brand reflects his values and passion for cannabis. We are proud to launch Highsman products in the Arizona market.”

Highsman has been exclusively available in Trulieve and Harvest dispensaries throughout Arizona since January 20. Personally curated by Williams, the product selection includes eighths and pre-rolls. Starting today, February 10, Highsman products will be available in dispensaries throughout Arizona— just in time for the Super Bowl.

“As a market leader in Arizona, we are excited to launch the Highsman brand for our customers,” said Konya Lindsey, Trulieve’s executive director of marketing in the Southwest. “Ricky Williams and his team have created a brand of quality products that we are proud to introduce at all of our locations statewide. We share Ricky’s enthusiasm for physical and mental healing and expect our customers to really enjoy his variety of flower products.”

Williams, who played 11 seasons in the NFL (mostly for the Miami Dolphins), puts Highsman at the intersection of cannabis and sports—two popular industries in Arizona. 

“Highsman was created for those who have a passion for sports and cannabis, so to launch in Arizona during the Super Bowl is an unprecedented moment for the brand,” Williams says. “Together with Trulieve and Abundant Organics, we will enter Arizona when the entire world is watching and introduce the Highsman products to all who partake in the plant.”

According to Lane Radbilll, Highsman’s chief marketing officer, the brand has clear strategic goals as it continues expanding in US legal markets this year.

“During Ricky’s time as a Miami Dolphin, he became ‘The Highsman’ and an icon in Florida, making the state a clear strategic market for us,” Radbill says. “Of course, we’d love to go back to where Ricky’s football career really kicked off—Texas—but until cannabis laws become more favorable in that state, we’ll focus some of our expansion efforts on the surrounding Midwest.”

The Road to Redemption

Williams is famously a longtime weed advocate, having used cannabis as a means of recovery from the pounding he took while playing football from 1999 to 2011.

Williams’ football career is impressive. So much so that in 1998, during his time at the University of Texas at Austin, he was awarded the Heisman Trophy—the award given to the best college football player in the nation. The gridiron legend would go on to play for the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints where he would be awarded more accolades, including being one of just 29 NFL players to eclipse 10,000 rushing yards.

His promising NFL career was infamously cut short in his prime due to continually testing positive for cannabis. Once criticized by sports pundits and fans alike for love of the plant, Williams now uses his platform and extensive experience to “spark greatness” by creating premium cannabis products that empower professional and everyday athletes, as well as sports enthusiasts. 

A Chance to Meet Ricky

Ricky Williams promoting Highsman at one of Curaleaf’s Arizona dispensaries.

To simultaneously celebrate the Super Bowl and the Trulieve partnership, Williams will be visiting select dispensaries in Arizona to meet and greet fans.

Friday, February 10

8.30 am-9 am MST: Curaleaf Scottsdale (16277 North Greenway Hayden Loop) 

9.30 am-10 am MST: Harvest Scottsdale (15190 N Hayden Rd) 

3 pm-9 pm MST: Madden Tournament 

9 pm-12 am MST: Industry Mixer 

Saturday, February 11

6 pm-12 am MST: 4th N. 20, Trulieve’s Cannablitz party

Sunday, February 12th

2 pm-9 pm MST: Ricky Williams is hosting a watch party at Highsman House, held on the rooftop of the Clarendon Hotel.

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Arizona Bill Would Provide Grants for Magic Mushroom Trials

Legislation proposed in Arizona would provide millions of dollars in grant funding to expand research into psilocybin––the primary psychoactive component in magic mushrooms––as a potential treatment for certain mental health conditions.

The bill, introduced by a Republican lawmaker and backed by Democrats, “would put $30 million in grants over three years toward clinical trials using whole-mushroom psilocybin to treat mental health conditions like depression and PTSD,” the Arizona Mirror reports

The outlet reports that one of the bill’s biggest backers is Dr. Sue Sisely, an internal medicine physician who believes that psilocybin treatment could be a boon for ailing military veterans. 

“It’s curbed their suicidality, it’s put their PTSD into remission, it’s even mitigated their pain syndromes,” Sisely said of patients she has seen benefit from psilocybin, as quoted by the Arizona Mirror. “It’s shown evidence of promoting neurogenesis (the growth and development of nerve tissue). There’s all kinds of great things that are being uncovered, but they’re not in controlled trials—they’re anecdotes from veterans and other trauma sufferers.” 

According to the Mirror, “so far the only controlled trials on psilocybin to treat medical conditions have used a synthetic, one-molecule version of the substance, which is vastly different from a whole mushroom, which contains hundreds of compounds.”

“These agricultural products are very complex, and that is what people are reporting benefit from,” Sisley told the Arizona Mirror. “Nobody in the world has access to synthetic psilocybin unless you’re in one of these big pharma trials.” 

In the last decade, psilocybin has gone from the fringes to the mainstream, as researchers and policymakers have grown more amenable to mushrooms as an effective treatment for a variety of different disorders. 

It has also become the next frontier for drug legalization advocates, as states like Arizona consider measures that would expand its usage. 

To the north of the Grand Canyon State, advocates in Utah have launched a campaign to push legislators to legalize psilocybin for clinical and academic purposes.

“Numerous robust studies have shown that psilocybin therapy is beneficial in reducing treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other mental health disorders. It is more effective than synthetic pharmaceuticals by a large margin. Psilocybin has also shown effectiveness in easing fear and anxiety in people with terminal cancer. For instance, a groundbreaking study performed by John Hopkins Medicine found that psilocybin reported better moods and greater mental health after participating in a single clinical dose,” Utah Mushroom Therapy, the group behind the campaign, says in a statement.

The group is looking to gin up public support for the treatment after the state’s Republican governor, Spencer Cox, signed a bill last year establishing a task force that will study psilocybin as a mental health treatment.

Utah Mushroom Therapy says that, in the wake of the task force, “legalizing and decriminalizing Psilocybin in Utah is now very likely but still needs public support.”

“The use of mushrooms has been documented in 15 indigenous groups in America and various religious communities in Utah. This petition supports those groups who wish to use psilocybin safely, sincerely, and as a necessary part of their religion. The use of psilocybin does not contradict other Utah cultures and is protected by the first amendment as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This petition is to advocate Utah law to protect the religious rights of Utahns,” the group says

“Psilocybin is a natural, non-toxic substance. Despite this, it is currently a Schedule I substance. Scientists have demonstrated it has profound medicinal value and believe serotonergic hallucinogens assist cognitive processes and should be decriminalized. Psychedelics can change perception and mood, help people soften their perspective and outlook, and process events that may otherwise lead to substance abuse, trauma, and criminal behavior,” it continues.

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