Spring Planting for Sungrown Cannabis at Swami Select

The days are longer, and the sun has warmed the soil—planting season is upon us. Even before the seeds are cracked, and long before the magic herb goes in the ground, there is a fair amount of preparation work to be done.

Ganja Ma Gardens, home of Swami Select cannabis, is nestled in the mountainous woodlands of Northern California’s Emerald Triangle. Last fall, we decided to move the 30 cannabis plants that grew in the Rose Garden to the primary cultivation area known as the Sri Yantra Garden. The Rose Garden was the first place we grew cannabis when we started the farm many years ago. But over the past few years, the plants got smaller and smaller, even though they received all the same amendments, compost teas and manure as the plants in the other gardens. We finally figured out that the roots of several enormous Oak and Doug Fir trees growing outside the garden fence had invaded the garden. The roots were stealing most of the water and nutrients that we thought were going to the plants.

In April, we moved the Rose Garden soil to our mixing area next to the Sri Yantra Garden. We used an excavator to dig 30 new holes in that garden. The crew gathered old fallen logs from around the ranch which were placed in the holes, along with hardware cloth for gopher protection and gypsum to help loosen up the clay in the native soil. This became the base of the mounds, or “hugellettes,” as I call them. To meet canopy requirements set by the state, each cannabis plant has its own little mound, measuring approximately seven feet in diameter. As the buried wood decomposes, it holds water and fosters microbial life. In the beginning of the process, however, it consumes a fair amount of nitrogen requiring the addition of chicken manure to compensate.

Wattles around the mixing piles. Photo Nikki Lastreto

Following the spring’s heavy windstorms, numerous fallen branches were gathered up and wood chipped. Added to the chips were dried oak leaves and last year’s compost pile consisting of cannabis waste and kitchen scraps, all of which was watered and turned. We also acquired about two yards of alpaca “beans” (aka manure) from our neighbor up the hill and added that to the mix. 

During the winter, the worms in the worm bin perished in the cold, and the whole batch was harvested and added to the compilation, as well. A fresh worm bin has been started for their castings. All these piles of natural ingredients will be mixed with chicken manure and mined minerals, such as Azomite containing trace minerals and Supplemate containing potassium and manganese sulfate, plus the soil from the Rose Garden to make the new hugellettes.

In April, because it’s still so cold, compost tea brews must bubble for 48 hours before microbial life multiplies. Next, the brews were poured on the garden mounds and the piles of Rose Garden soil.

After testing the existing mounds in the Sri Yantra Garden, we found they needed little in the way of amendments. After they have been loosened with a broad fork, the same mix of natural ingredients and amendments listed above will be added on top of all the mounds and then mulched over with organic wheat straw and drenched with compost tea.

Suddenly, at the end of April, the cover crop started coming in. The seeds were broadcast in late November, but the wild turkeys ate them all—the bonus being that they left behind their poop! 

Another cover crop seeding in February (this time covered with hardware cloth) fared a bit better, but the lack of rain and the cold spring inhibited much growth. Then came a late rain, sunshine, warm days, and it sprang to life. Now, green and flourishing, it is being weed-whacked and turned into mulch on the beds.  

Choosing Cultivars

After much discussion about which cultivars to grow this season, we selected eight strains from Humboldt Seed Company, Heartrock Mountain Farm and our own collections, which contained seeds developed especially for us years ago by Flowerdaze Farm and our own gardeners. 

We placed all the seeds at the feet of Ganja Ma, the Goddess of Cannabis, for a moon cycle. Following an ancient tradition of calling on higher powers to bless the crop, we chanted mantras to set the intention for the flowers to bring healing and inspiration to the end-user. On April 13, with the new moon in Taurus, we repeated more mantras and put the seeds in little jars of water covered with cloth, adding a few drops of water from the sacred Ganges River in India. 

Ganja Ma in the Sri Yantra Garden. Photo Nikki Lastreto

Once the seeds cracked and the tiny white taproots peeked out, we planted them in one-gallon pots with the soil from last year’s male starts, which had been composting all winter and were also inoculated with a compost tea brew. Once the first little rounded cotyledon leaves sprouted, the statue of Ganja Ma was brought out from her place indoors to the Sri Yantra Garden and set atop the stacked triangles which form the Sri Yantra—the sacred geometric symbol signifying the complementarity of male and female energies.

Greater Efficiency with Gender Testing

A big change this year was the decision to do gender testing with Leafworks. This will enable us to put the plants in the ground much earlier, as we won’t have to wait for each plant to show physical signs of gender. In the past, it was a tedious process: every day throughout June, we would carefully inspect each plant for the two little antennae-like yellowish hairs in the branch node, signaling it’s a female. 

Gender ID Testing also means less water, less fertilizer and less labor caring for hundreds of plants that will eventually become male and need to be put down. This year all the tiny leaf cuttings for the testing were done in one day in mid-May. Results should be back in a week. With the girls in their beds a month earlier than before, the yield should be greater, as well.

In the category of “it’s always something,” we were perplexed as to why 30-40 of the cracked seeds never sprouted. After days spent wondering what we did wrong, we moved some planters and discovered a family of mice living underneath some ground covering. They had been feasting on the tender sprouts—a delicious salad bar for them. To make up for the loss, we started a batch of new seeds and are still waiting for them to sprout.

The bright-green seedling starts are about six inches tall now, and they each received a scoop of chicken manure to spur the next stage of growth. Soon they will be tucked into their little beds in the Sri Yantra Garden and the Moon Garden. Before the coming harvest in October, they will be watered and fed with compost teas until they reach for the sky, growing to ten feet or more and raising all our spirits.

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Prop 65 Warning on California Cannabis Products Opens the Floodgates for Lawsuits

Starting January 3rd, all cannabis products sold in California will now require a Prop 65 warning on the label, a move that will likely spark an influx of product-liability lawsuits within the industry.

In theory, health warning labels are a good thing – they alert consumers that the product they are buying can potentially have an impact on their health. However, in practice, they lead to overregulation, frivolous lawsuits, and many California consumers have started to ignore them because they can be vague and are so liberally applied.

The Proposition 65 labels date back to the mid-80s and applies to any product that contains known toxins or carcinogens, even if the amounts are trace and research is inconclusive. Once the new mandate goes into effect next month, all products that create “marijuana smoke”, as well as those containing Delta-9 THC will need a warning label. This covers pretty much every product in the legal market, minus CBD (cannabidiol) or CBG (cannabigerol) topicals and edibles.

Legal experts say that these types of mandates are often enforced by private attorneys and plaintiffs rather than state regulators. This practice was initially intended to keep the court system from backlogging over minor cases, but it has transformed into a sort of under-the-radar industry that preys on small business owners.

“The bounty hunters (people who go to stores specifically to look for unlabeled products) will be able to start regulating and enforcing those come Jan. 3, 2021,” Anne Marie Ellis, an Orange County attorney who specializes in product liability, said during a webinar in early December.

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A little bit about Prop 65

Proposition 65, formally known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, was established to protect California’s drinking water sources contamination by chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm, and it requires business to keep and current list (which is updated regularly) of chemicals that cause these reactions.

The program has expanded in the last couple decades and you can find Prop 65 warnings on everything from food items, children’s toys, hygiene products, and even entire buildings (for example, my local Wal-Mart has a Prop 65 warning stating that chemicals within the building are known carcinogens).

Additionally, there is no penalty for posting an unnecessary sign, which leads to vague and overused warnings that rarely resonate with the consumer. It’s for these reasons, among others, that the law has been harshly denounced over the years with critics saying it causes “over-warning” and “meaningless warnings”. These sentiments have been backed in numerous court cases as well.

Applying it to the cannabis industry

Again, starting January 3rd all products the create cannabis smoke and/or contain THC will be subject to the new law. The labels these new products will be sporting can come in two different formats: a standard warning or a short-form version.

The standard warning is quite long and a bit more detailed, while the short version is straight to the point and intended for smaller products. Most likely, you will see more of the short-form version on dispensary products, and this version reads: “WARNING: Cancer and Reproductive Harm – www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.” Short and ominous.

“If a product doesn’t have the warning on its actual packaging, then the alert must be placed somewhere obvious so consumers can see it,” Ellis said. “And because both marijuana smoke and THC are about to be triggers for Prop 65 requirements, literally every company that does business in California needs to comply with the law, not just companies that produce smokable cannabis products.”

This will include many noncombustible products such as edibles, topicals, and vapes, unless they both, contain isolated CBD or other non-psychoactive cannabinoids AND do not produce any smoke during consumption.

Prop 65 laws and litigations aren’t new to the Golden State cannabis industry, however. Cannabis smoke has been on the state’s list of carcinogens since 2009, and THC since 2018. In January 2020, a ruling by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Enforcement listed both as potential reproductive toxins.

Conflicting research on THC and cancer

Now, about this issue of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) being named a carcinogen. The existing studies on this are conflicting but overall, research indicates that it’s helpful, not harmful. For example, a number of small studies found that inhaled cannabis is helpful in treating nausea and pain (especially neuropathic) associated with chemotherapy.

More recent studies have even documented THC and other cannabinoids as cancer inhibitors, noting that they can slow the growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells. This was demonstrated numerous times in lab petri dishes as well as live-animal studies.

In Israel, research on the medicinal use of cannabinoids has been going on for decades. Just last year, Professor Raphael Mechoulam from Hebrew University of Jerusalem received a $2,000,000 grant for just this purpose.

Mechoulam is leading a research team to work on developing cannabis-based treatments for three aggressive forms of cancer: melanoma (skin cancer), neuroblastoma (cancer originating in the surrounding and mostly neural system in children), and glaublastoma (brain cancer).

I did come across one study that suggested cannabis exposure may increase the “susceptibility to and/or incidence of breast cancer as well as other cancers that do not express cannabinoid receptors and are resistant to Delta9-THC-induced apoptosis.” In this scenario, it refers to very specific types of cancer and more research is definitely needed.

Liabilities and lawsuits

According to Ellis, the main issue businesses will face once this law goes into effect is the cannabis industry “bounty hunters” who are basically undercover shoppers that will look for cannabis products in dispensaries that are not in compliance with the new mandate. In these situations, they will often file a “notice of violation” and push for a settlement out of court – so in other words, they’re looking for money.

“This is low-hanging fruit for lawyers who want to make a quick buck and don’t want to do a lot of work,” said Lara DeCaro, a San Francisco attorney who represents numerous cannabis businesses. “Most legal marijuana businesses are already complying with the Prop 65 labelling mandate because such requirements have been on most companies’ radars for a long time.” Nevertheless, she expects there will be an influx of legal complaints who target the “industry stragglers” who are waiting until the last minute to get up to speed.

There are many attorneys who make their living working Prop 65 cases in other industries, since it covers all consumer products and businesses and the list exceeds 1,000 chemicals that are considered dangerous. Roughly 90% of Prop 65 cases – across all industries – are settled out of court. Fines for companies who are in violation can be up $2,500 per product, daily. So if you have 3 non-compliant products, you’re looking at $7,500 in fines every single day until you remedy the situation.

“They will go around, much like they do under the (Americans with Disabilities Act) and find violations and then file numerous complaints,” DeCaro said. “Whether or not those complaints end up having merit, they’re going to name a bunch of people, and defendants will throw a few thousand dollars at it just to make it go away. It’s a cost-benefit analysis at that point. Am I going to spend $20,000 on a lawyer to fight it and get it kicked out, or am I just going to spend $3,000 at it and make the person go away?”

What the future holds

Although this may come as a shock to some of the newer businesses or those that aren’t particularly worried about the logistics of working in the industry, but for the most part, the word is out and most cannabusiness owners are well-prepared for January 3rd.

“The industry is aware. There’s been a fairly good job of discussing the need for Prop 65,” said Pamela Epstein, attorney for Oakland-based Eden Enterprises and a board member of the California Cannabis Industry Association. “Prop 65 is generally on most checklists for incoming and outgoing product at the manufacturing and distribution and retail level, so they should be ready.”

Overall, people are prepared for Prop 65 to hit the California cannabis industry . But for those that aren’t, it could end up being a very costly mistake so you’ll want to do everything you can to get compliant by the beginning of next month.

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Still Standing: Northern California’s 2020 Harvest In Review

The harvest was glorious, mellow and abundant. It was sunny and mostly warm up until the first week of November, when forecasts of the first rain and then a hard frost mandated that we cut the final cultivar a few days early. 

Other than the unfortunate farms that burned and lost their whole crops, and some other growers in the immediate area who were smoked out, the 2020 California sungrown cannabis crop doesn’t seem to have suffered much testable damage.

Photo Nikki Lastreto

Every harvest is different, but I would be lying if I didn’t report the unique challenges the cannabis community endured this season. Repeating the litany of crises can become wearisome, and I don’t want to sound like I am complaining. However, in spite of being declared an essential industry and evidence of a growing market for cannabis as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, I am not sure anyone in the legal cannabis business is actually making a profit. 

Most businesses in the legal market are just happy to be “still standing” at this point. We clearly are in a moment of transition, or in astrological terms, we are on a cusp, about to enter another phase. How much of the predicted events will in fact transpire – no one knows.

An Extra Helping of Hurt

For the cannabis farmers of the Emerald Triangle, the challenges came thick and fast in 2020. Like everyone else, we have been affected by “the virus,” a presidential election, Black Lives Matter, social distancing and the lock down. But as 2020 started, the cannabis community received an extra helping of hurt. 

First, there was the rise in the California cannabis cultivation tax, which doesn’t make much sense since excessive taxation is the reason for a thriving illicit market. This was followed by the COVID-19 lockdown, which brought the cancellation of most public cannabis events, including the 420 national holiday. 

Initially, cannabis dispensaries were shut down as part of the shelter-in-place orders. A ray of hope came when cannabis was declared an essential business in late May, and sales picked up, especially delivery and the newly authorized curbside pick-up.

Cultivators took this as a green light to carry on with the springtime garden preparations. However, at the start of the planting season, it was realized that even including all the drought years since 2000, the previous eight months had received the least rainfall since 1979-80. Subsequently, springs and creeks began to run dry, and farmers who are dependent on trucked-in-water were freaking out as towns put a limit on withdrawals.

This was followed by the belated realization that two thirds to three quarters of all cannabis licenses in California are provisional because they had not met the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The January 1, 2022 CEQA deadline suddenly seemed awfully close as county and state officials realized there were not enough working hours, staff or money to pay them to process the approximately 7,000 provisional licenses before they expired. This meant that 90 percent of the compliant cannabis businesses in the state could be shut down due to an unrealistic deadline.

Some counties even require an additional report of threats to sensitive species posed by cannabis cultivation in the mountains. The cost for the licensee to secure these clearances was estimated to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Suddenly, it seemed that virtually the entire cannabis economy would be reduced to the biggest and richest operations while the small pioneer legacy businesses would go under.

Apocalyptic Skies

To top it all off, the fire season started earlier than usual. As anyone living in California in the summer of 2020 knows, the sky turned a dark, apocalyptic orange while ash fell like warm snowflakes that didn’t melt. It was so dark at mid-day that cars had their headlights on, and the street lights were lit. 

Many people lost homes, farms and crops. Fires blazed throughout the Emerald Triangle, the Santa Cruz mountains, Big Sur, the foothills of the Sierras, and even up into southern Oregon. Watching the fire lines, shown on the Cal Fire maps, as they inched closer to one’s neighborhood and ranch was daunting and stressful.

The only good news was that, for the most part, the fires were in forest land, which meant the ash was not nearly so toxic as a town or city on fire. But still, everyone was afraid that the entire crop for the whole state would be ruined by the smoke and ash. The talk among the cannabis community was focused on how to remove ashes from the leaves and flowers. Most people used leaf blowers or gently shook their plants.

Pineapple Cannabis Plant
Photo Brian Parks

Building Hope

In spite of all this, the harvest turned out great. The days of August and September were hot and the nights were cool, furthering the development of THC and the terpenes. When we finally started cutting in the first week of October, there had been no significant smoke or ash for several weeks, and our feelings of hope began to rise. Even though we desperately needed the rain, everyone was glad that it held off until the end of harvest.

Once the cutting actually began, everyone shifted into high gear – literally. At Swami Select Garden, we harvest in the wee hours of the morning when it is still dark out. Because of all the smoke and ash, we added extra precautions: After each plant was brought in and weighed, we  dipped every branch in a diluted hydrogen-peroxide solution. Next, we dipped them in clean water before hanging them outside on wires strung between trees for a brief drip-dry.

Cannabis hanging to dry during harvest.
Photo Brian Parks

As the sky slowly begins to lighten, and all the plants for that day’s cutting are hanging, we take a break for breakfast, when I cook omelets or pancakes for the crew. Then, we go back to hanging everything in the official drying area.

Interestingly, the need to get up at 5 a.m. creates a bond between the team members. It is really a magical time under the moon and stars. The terpene aroma is delightful, the buds are at their peak, and there is a sense of pride seeing the giant colas come down and loaded onto the trailer. It’s hard work, but one can literally see the fruits of their labor.

Looking Ahead

All during October, the humidity was in the twenties and thirties, so the issue was preventing the flowers from getting too dry. Then, as the drying area filled up and the rain came in November, we had the dehumidifiers going full time. Drying takes between 10 days and two or three weeks depending on outside humidity and how many fans and dehumidifiers there are. 

Nikki deleafing after harvest.
Photo Zach Sokol

When sufficiently dry, the smaller twigs snap rather than bend. This signals that it’s time to take the branches down, off the drying nets, and roll them up in brown Kraft paper – like three-foot tall burritos. Now they are ready for bucking, when we remove any large fan leaves and take every bud off of its branch in preparation for the fully manicured trim at the processing center.

The farmer’s harvest work may be over, but it’s time to prepare for next year’s grow already. First, we planted a cover crop of nitrogen-fixing plants followed by spreading compost on top of the soil to discourage the turkeys from flying over the fence to eat the seeds. Finally, all the equipment and gardening gear must be put away for the winter. A good farmer is always thinking ahead to the next season.

The 2020 election has brought some positive news for the cannabis industry as 30 cities and counties in California passed cannabis legalization measures, which hopefully means we’ll see more retail outlets soon. The election wins in five states were also a boost, proving cannabis is the one thing most Americans can agree on. News like this is encouraging for us farmers who work so hard to grow the best cannabis in the world. We will not give up!

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California Cannabis Delivery Lawsuit: “It’s NOT a win” For the Industry

Since 2019, cannabusiness owners in California have been in litigation over a lawsuit aimed to further restrict access to legal, recreational marijuana. Last week, a verdict was finally reached.

What initially seemed like a win for the cannabis industry eventually revealed the reality that these legal battles are likely far from over. In case you need a refresher, the initial lawsuit was brought on by 25 local city governments sued the California Bureau of Cannabis Control, arguing that “delivery policy violates state law by overriding their ability to regulate cannabis commerce at the local level.”

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So basically, they’ve already banned dispensary storefronts within city limits, and now they want to ban delivery services as well. And this new ruling allows them to do just that, with two main takeaways to keep in mind.

  1. It upheld the state regulation that allows licensed marijuana delivery companies to offer services anywhere in the state.
  2. It affirmed that cities and counties can forbid those operations, though enforcement of the bans is also up to the local governments.

In other words, marijuana businesses and delivery operators could choose to continue delivering to cities that have bans against them, but they face the risk of expensive legal fights with those local governments. Or they could abide by the ban, but would immediately lose all of their income from that entire city.

“It’s not a loss, but it’s not a win for delivery,” said Zach Pitts, CEO of Los Angeles-based Ganja Goddess and a board member of the California Cannabis Couriers Association. “What I really don’t like is the possibility that we’re still going to have to litigate this,” Pitts said. “And in many ways, that’s putting the litigation onto small companies … with every single city and county that decides to ban delivery.”

Sacramento-based attorney Khurshid Khoja called the ruling a disaster, stating “I don’t see this as a victory at all,” Khoja said. “If this is a victory for anyone, it’s a victory for the cities.”

Marijuana industry attorney Dana Cisneros in Anaheim Hills called the decision “disappointing,” adding: “I think today a lot of folks are going to be confused. I’ve already seen headlines … that say deliveries can occur in any jurisdiction, even if a city bans it. It was a very hair-splitting decision that was made, where the court just said, ‘These are regulations designed to regulate licensees, not local jurisdictions, so there’s not a conflict.’”

Cisneros continued, saying that the “real-world” impact is the added hoops that cannabis operators need to jump through, when they’re already drowning compliance regulations as it is.

“It just adds another layer of insane compliance for our retailers to adhere to, because now, if you’re going to deliver in California, you better know what the specific local law is in every single city,” she added.

As of last month (November 2020) only 187 out of California’s 540 jurisdictions allow marijuana businesses to operate. An additional 42 California jurisdictions have banned store front dispensaries but allow business from outside of their boundaries to conduct delivery services.

It’s notoriously difficult to enforce such laws anyway, because city regulators would have to vet every single dispensary that opens, where there are many of. Not mention the fact that most are no longer advertising on Weedmaps or any one central marketing site, so it would be nearly impossible to know exactly how many dispensaries exist in a given area and what they are doing.

According to Pitts, it all boils down to one thing. “So it’s really going to come out to: How do these cities that have bans decide to enforce them?”

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California Might Be Progressive with Marijuana, But Hemp and CBD is an Entirely Different Story

Although California is viewed as a liberal paradise – especially regarding cannabis laws – the way this state regulates CBD is still incredibly limited and regressive.

California has the oldest and largest legal cannabis market in the world. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state for 24 years now, recreational is legal, and you can easily find flower and other high-THC products in most localities. However, when it comes to CBD (cannabidiol), California dispensaries need a special license to sell hemp flower, it’s illegal to infuse CBD in edibles, and a bill is on the table that would prohibit anyone under 21 years old from buying any it.

Why the discrepancy when CBD is non-psychoactive and federally legal?

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Over two decades of medical marijuana

Back in 1996, the Golden State became the first to legalize the use of medical marijuana. It was uncharted territory, and putting Prop 215 – The Compassionate Use Act, into practice would be no easy task; but the main objective was “to ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraines or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.”

And the bill really meant ANY condition. This drew a lot of criticism, with many lawmakers believing that cannabis should only be prescribed for a very limited list of predetermined conditions. However, lawmakers are not doctors or scientists and are in no position to make assumptions on the therapeutic potential of cannabis. Questions of medication, treatments, and prescriptions should handled by healthcare practitioners and their patients.

Aside from ensuring that patients have easy access to cannabis, and that doctors are free to prescribe it as they see fit, Prop 215 also aimed to guarantee that patients and their primary caregivers were not subject to criminal prosecution or sanction for cannabis use.

First time visiting a dispensary? Here are a few things to keep in mind

It was truly one of the more progressive political movements of its time, and many states followed suit in the coming years. By the turn of the millennium, a total of 8 states had legalized cannabis for medical use, either through ballot measure or state legislature.

One of the main concerns that opponents of medical marijuana voiced relentlessly – the possibility of abuse and muddled line separating recreational users and true medical users. The program was strict and limited at first, but over time enforcement just gradually faded away and it became extremely easy, some would say too easy, to get access to “medical” marijuana.

Pretty much everyone I knew had a medical card by their 18th birthday, and none of us were chronically ill by any means. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely not against easy access to cannabis, I myself have been smoking since my teens. But at that point, with how easy it was for just about anyone to get a medical cannabis card, that only left one very obvious question… why not just legalize it for everyone?

Proposition 64

In November 2016, California voters approved the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Proposition 64) to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. As a result of recreational legalization, local governments (city and county) could no longer prohibit adults from growing, using, or transporting marijuana for personal use.

California Cannabis Businesses are Still Banned, Despite Legalization

Although it was a long time coming, and no longer prosecuting citizens for marijuana crimes is certainly an advancement, the new legal market presented its own set of challenges. Local control and bans (moratoriums) were put in place, leading to more than half of California cities banning recreational dispensaries before they even got their feet off the ground. That along with high taxes made it extremely difficult for new businesses to open and remain operational.

For dispensaries transitioning from medical only to medical and recreational, or only recreational, there were many hoops to jump through, and by “hoops” I mean money to paid in the form of taxes and licensing fees. Dispensary owners have to pass these costs on to the customers, which is why you’ll see 1/8s of flower for $80 at certain stores. These high costs continue to drive consumers to the black/grey market, which only means ongoing struggles for the legal industry.

No CBD Flower at California Dispensaries

One rule that’s incredibly odd, is that dispensaries have to get separate licensing to sell CBD/hemp flower. Normally, it’s the opposite way around, considering CBD flower is federally legal, but not in California.

Where to buy CBD Flower in California

Here, even after going through all the regulatory framework and paying all of your licensing fees to open a legal, recreational dispensary – you know, one of those places where you can buy concentrates with over 90% THC – you’re still prohibited from selling non-intoxicating hemp flowers unless you pay even more money to the state.

However, to make things even more confusing, if you don’t own a marijuana dispensary, but you own a regular store front selling CBD products, there are no restrictions on the sale of non-food, hemp products – including flowers. s

Restrictive Extract Laws

A piece of legislature drafted for review by various California state administrations, would prohibit interstate commerce of hemp extract as well as ban the sale of hemp/CBD products to anyone under 21 years of age. If passed, these would be the most restrictive hemp/CBD laws in the entire country, short of banning these products altogether. Hemp industry leaders are calling the draft language “draconian” and fear it could hinder the work done by many activists and organizers, who have brought the hemp industry as far as it is today.

Following California & Spain: Are CBD Edibles Legal?

According to Jonathan Miller, a hemp industry attorney based out of Lexington, KY, and a general counsel member f the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, “The challenge here is that the California General Assembly leaves town next week. We are running up against a deadline. There are three parties involved – the governor and his administration, including the California Department of Public Health, the state legislature, and the CBD/hemp industry. For two years, the Department of Public Health has said it is illegal to sell CBD as a dietary supplement or food additive, but they haven’t really enforced it across the board.”

He added that, “We have seen enforcement actions against stores on a county level. We would like to see legislation passed that explicitly says cannabinoids can be sold. We are now negotiating with the governor’s office and are optimistic we can get a good bill passed, but we are running out of time. In some of the drafts, we’ve seen some things that we thought were poison pills. We either reach agreement soon or we are going to fight. No bill is better than a bad bill.”

According to another California lobbyist who wished to remain anonymous, “It’s also a matter of existing jobs in hemp and agriculture. Hopefully the administration and legislature will be mindful that some businesses will leave the state, and some will go bankrupt. And consumers may not understand that their access to hemp and CBD products could be cut off,” the individual said.

Final Thoughts

Cannabis laws are confusing, but this seems to be particularly true in California, despite the fact that the Golden State has had the most time to figure it out – 24 years to be exact. When it comes to marijuana and THC, the black market has the advantage. If these new laws regarding CBD pass, it will drive a federally legal cannabinoid to the state’s thriving illegal market as well.

Thanks for stopping by CBD TESTERS, your hub for all things cannabis-related. Stop by regularly and make sure to subscribe to the Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter to keep up-to-date on all the most interesting industry topics.


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DELTA 8 THC Business: Risks and Rewards (Read it before opening a DELTA 8 THC business)
DELTA 8 THC Legal loophole (Explains the legal background of the DELTA-8 THC business opportunity)
DELTA 8 THC Testimonials (What people have to say about DELTA-8 THC)
DELTA 8 THC Legal Paper
DELTA 8 THC Newsletter (The DELTA 8 THC Weekly Newsletter)
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers)
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
The Legal Landscape Of CBD Hemp Flower In Europe
Regulators Go After Smokable Hemp Flower – What Does The Future Hold?
The Complex Issue of Cannabis and Hemp Business On Tribal Land
Government Assistance Options for U.S. Hemp Farmers Affected By COVID-19

The post California Might Be Progressive with Marijuana, But Hemp and CBD is an Entirely Different Story appeared first on CBD Testers.

NUG Grows Cannabis & Communities

As the cannabis industry continues to grow, competition to innovate and stand out from the pack has never been more crucial for survival. Cannabis companies that flex cutting-edge ideas, products and services are finding themselves out in front as leaders within the industry, simultaneously growing amazing cannabis and changes in public perception of the plant. One such company is Oakland-based NUG, Inc., a premier, state-licensed company on a mission to normalize the cannabis experience while playing a key role in supporting communities most impacted by prohibition.

It’s not hard to see why the company is considered one of the fastest-growing cannabis brands in California. Founded in 2014, NUG are pioneers and innovators in the space. Their ongoing commitment to equity and community involvement to help normalize cannabis’ place in society is as important to them as their reputation for developing an industry-wide standard for handcrafted cannabis cultivation and manufacturing technology in line with California’s strict compliance codes.

Inside one of NUG’s grow rooms

NUG Grows Cannabis

NUG’s vertical integration business model allows them to be across every facet of the company. World-class facilities in Oakland house the company’s trailblazing R&D, while industry-leading technology combined with state-of-the-art cultivation, extraction and distillation facilities has allowed the company to consistently scale up production and stock their retail destinations via their distribution arm.

A proprietary track and trace system follows the life of a plant from clone to product. This seed to sale view allows NUG to better meet their consumer needs and provide more detailed information on their extensive product line that features award-winning flower including Premium Jack, which took home the coveted “Best Flower” award at the 2012 High Times Cup, concentrates, vape carts, pre-rolls and edibles. The recently released freezer pops demonstrate the brand’s continued advancement of innovative cannabis consumables.

NUG Grows Communities

NUG has two retail destinations; NUG Sacramento that stocks the brand’s portfolio of award-winning products including concentrates, edibles, flowers and pre-rolls and NUG Wellness San Leandro, which features a sectioned-off, dedicated Wellness Center offering CBD products from top brands including Papa & Barkley, including topicals, tinctures and pet products.

“Combining NUG’s commitment to create premier cannabis retail stores with our company mission of normalizing the cannabis experience, the new NUG dispensaries serve as a showcase for ‘best of the best cannabis’ grown and products manufactured in California,” said Dr. John Oram, founder and CEO.

“Equally important, the dispensary functions as an oasis for adult patients and consumers alike to feel comfortable, safe and knowledgeable before making a purchase,” he continues. “We are thrilled to make our mark in Sacramento, which will set the stage for four additional retail stores scheduled to open in California.”

NUG’s third retail store is planned to open in 2020 in collaboration with equity partners in downtown Oakland.

Cutting the ribbon at the NUG Equity Partner Greenhouses opening

NUG Grows Change

Being based in Oakland gives NUG a unique position to empower members of the cannabis community and help motivate and embrace cannabis normalization, helping to showcase the positive effects cannabis can have on local communities. NUG were early adopters of the Oakland Equity Program that works to reverse the damage inflicted on communities throughout the United States as a result of the War on Drugs.

From patented cutting-edge technology to award-winning branded products and dedication to equity and community involvement, NUG is helping grow cannabis.

TELL US, have you tried Premium Jack?

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5 Busted Myths of Today’s California Cannabis Consumer

decades, growers from Northern California’s Emerald Triangle — the area encompassing Mendocino,
Humboldt and Trinity counties — have been the epicenter of America’s cannabis

The Golden State had the first legal medical marijuana market with the passing of Prop 215 in 1996. Proposition 64, the Adult Use Act, legalized growing, selling and using cannabis recreationally in November 2016.

Thousands of cannabis businesses have emerged since, all trying to establish themselves in an already saturated and highly regulated market. The industry has seen unparalleled innovation and investment across categories like product development and technology, causing a so-called “Green Rush.” It has been predicted that by 2024, the California cannabis market will comprise 25% of the entire market for cannabis in the U.S.

due to the immaturity of the market, little data is available to help support
the industry. In order to help shape product development and strategic
decision-making, companies need to ask fundamental questions, like who buys the
product and what do they use it for?

help fill these knowledge gaps, NorCal Cannabis Company undertook a first-of-its-kind
study of California’s cannabis consumers. Using an online panel, the survey
questioned 1529 people and represents of all California cannabis consumers 21
years and older.

The result is Five Myths of Today’s California Cannabis Consumer.

Graham is the VP of Business Intelligence at NorCal Cannabis Company. He helps
the company make smarter business decisions using data. According to Graham,
they decided to carry out this research because “there were many fundamental
questions about the California cannabis consumer that were unanswered, so we
decided to conduct research on our own.”

to Graham, the most surprising thing he discovered during the research process
was that many of the preconceptions about cannabis aren’t true. So they decided
to group their findings into five myths:

: Recreational users
get high for fun, while medical users are focused on their health.

reality is, most cannabis consumers use cannabis for both recreational and
medical reasons.

: Women are an
emerging market segment of new cannabis consumers.

fact, women already use cannabis as much as men.

: A handful of brands
are dominating the California cannabis market.

truth is that no brand has achieved a significant foothold in the market.

: All Californians
have access to legal cannabis.

in reality, they don’t.

: Consumers are
migrating from dispensaries to delivery.

In reality, consumers want an omnichannel experience to maximize their experiences.

concerns us is the lack of availability that exists for regulated cannabis for
so many people,” says Graham on the finding. “The research shows how cannabis
gives relief for so many people for things like pain, insomnia and depression.
California voters approved the legalization of cannabis, but people still do
not have legal access throughout most of the state.”

believes that the study is important because it shows that cannabis helps with
“a variety of fundamental and important ways” and it isn’t a simple case of
‘recreational’ and ‘medicinal’

would like people to understand that many of the assumptions they have about
cannabis consumers, cannabis usage, and cannabis availability may be wrong,”
says Graham.

To read the NorCal Cannabis Company’s report in full, visit norcalcann.com.

, do you smoke Californian

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Where to Buy CBD Flowers in California

California is typically leading the herd when it comes to cannabis-related trends, so one might be surprised to discover that CBD flowers – one of the more popular items on the scene today – can be pretty difficult to find.

For some time now, I’ve been on the hunt for the elusive, high-quality hemp buds. Living near the Coachella Valley, a veritable haven of cannabis dispensaries, I thought I could walk into one of the many storefronts in my area and find some Harlequinn, Charlotte’s Web, or other high-CBD flowers. But to my disappointment, this was not the case. Naturally, I turned to Weedmaps to see if any of the delivery services offer such strains. Once again, I hit a brick wall.


So I set out on a mission to create a short list of the best places to buy CBD flowers in California, in case anyone else was running into the same issues that I was. Below are a few top-notch dispensaries and delivery services, from SoCal to the Bay area, where you can find high-CBD strains.

  1. Goddess Deliveries – Goddess has a nice assortment of strains, and they’ll deliver to most areas of California within 1-2 business days. If you live anywhere between San Diego and Sacramento, this place is worth checking out. You can also get free delivery on orders of $75 or more.
  2. Organic CBD Nugs – Although this company actually is nationwide and their farm is based in Oregon, this is a very popular delivery service among Los Angelenos. Each batch of flowers from here is tested and approved by the US Department of Agriculture prior to distribution. Organic CBD Nugs is highly reviewed on Yelp.
  3. Barbary Coast Dispensary – Barbary Coast was established in 2013 and is located on Mission street in San Francisco. It’s a high-end dispensary with lab-tested products (including amazing CBD buds), a dab bar, lounge, and patient education facility.
  4. Santa Cruz Naturals – A family-owned, boutique-style dispensary, Santa Cruz Naturals is a great place to find organic, wholesome, and ethically sourced CBD flowers. They are well-reviewed on Weedmaps and even mentioned by High Times and Leafly.
  5. Seven Stars Holistic Healing Center – Another Bay area gem, 7 Stars is not only a top-rated dispensary in the area, but they have an impressive history of patient advocacy. They boast a nice selection of menu items, including some wonderful CBD buds.

So there you have it, we’ve got you covered from the Bay area to the Southern border. If you know of any good places to procure CBD flowers in California, drop us a comment in the section below. We’d love to hear about your favorites!

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