California Bill Would Require Warning Labels on Cannabis

California licensed cannabis companies would be required to put additional warnings on regulated marijuana products under a bill currently making its way through the state legislature. SB 1097, the Cannabis Right to Know Act, was passed by the California state Senate by a vote of 23-3 on May 25. On June 22, the measure was approved unanimously by the Assembly Business and Professions Committee before being referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

SB 1097 would require large warning messages similar to those found on cigarettes and other tobacco products to be included on packaging for all licensed cannabis products. The labels would include messages about the potential risks cannabis poses including impaired driving, effects on adolescent brain development, impacts on pregnancy and associations with mental health issues including schizophrenia. The bill also requires retailers to provide a brochure outlining the health risks of cannabis to new customers and to display the brochures for other customers at the point of service.

Some of the warning messages for marijuana products mandated by the Cannabis Right to Know Act include:

  • “WARNING: Do not buy illegally sold cannabis as it is more likely to contain unsafe additives or harmful contaminants such as mold or pesticides.”
  • “WARNING: Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. Exposure to cannabis during pregnancy may harm your baby’s health, including causing low birth weight.”
  • “WARNING: Cannabis use may contribute to mental health problems, including psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Risk is greatest for frequent users and when using products with high THC levels.”
  • “WARNING: Cannabis use may contribute to mental health problems, including increased thoughts of suicide and suicide attempts. Risk is greatest for frequent users.”

The rotating set of ten warning labels would be required to be printed in a black 12-point font against a bright yellow background and cover one-third of the package front. The labels are modeled after comprehensive regulations adopted in Canada, where cannabis was legalized in 2018.

Bill’s Supporters Warn of Health Risks

Supporters of SB 1097 including Dr. Deepak Cyril D’Souza, a psychiatry professor at Yale University School of Medicine and a member of the physicians advisory board for Connecticut’s medical marijuana program, say that cannabis can cause serious health problems for some people. He believes that warning labels could help reduce the harmful effects of cannabis like similar messages included on packaging for cigarettes. D’Souza attributes warning labels, education campaigns and marketing restrictions for a steep reduction in smoking by children and teenagers observed over the past decade.

The health risks posed by cannabis can be exacerbated by products with high levels of THC, according to proponents of the Cannabis Right to Know Act. The THC content of cannabis flower from some varietals can exceed 35%, while marijuana concentrates can boast THC levels of more than 99%.

“Today’s turbocharged products are turbocharging the harms associated with cannabis,” said Dr. Lynn Silver with the Public Health Institute, a nonprofit organization supporting SB 1097.

Industry Group Opposes Cannabis Right to Know Act

In a call to action posted online last month, the trade group California Cannabis Industry Association expressed opposition to SB 1097. Seeking the support of members and their customers, the CCIA wrote that the “bill would add duplicative labeling requirements to cannabis products that will do very little to protect public health or undercut the illicit market, but will instead unfairly penalize legal operators who already comply with stringent labeling and childproof packaging requirements.”

Noting that the bill would result in higher prices for regulated cannabis products, the industry group called on California-licensed cannabis companies and consumers to contact their state lawmakers and ask that they oppose the Cannabis Right to Know Act.

“This bill is really duplicative and puts unnecessary burdens on the legal cannabis industry, as we already have incredibly restrictive packaging and advertising requirements,” Lindsay Robinson, executive director of the CCIA, told NPR.

Robinson added that the state should focus its resources on combating the illicit cannabis industry instead of licensed companies, which are already struggling to comply with strict regulations. Noting that licensed cannabis dispensaries in California generated $1.3 billion in state tax revenue last year, she said that adding additional requirements increases their costs and makes it more difficult for them to compete with the illicit marijuana market.

“The only real option if they fail out of the legal system is to shutter their businesses altogether or to operate underground. And I don’t think the state of California, with the tax revenue, wants either of those to happen,” Robinson said. “The heart of the issue is that there’s a massive, unregulated market in the state.”

Snowden Steiber, a regulatory analyst at regulatory compliance software platform Simplifya, told Cannabis Now that SB 1097 would saddle California’s industry with redundant rules.

“The current regulations already require licensees to include clear and legible warnings on the following issues for each product: cannabis’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance, keep out of reach of children and animals, no one under 21 may consume, no pregnant people should consume cannabis, effects may be delayed for two hours and warnings on cannabis’s ability to impair driving and cause DUIs,” Steiber wrote in an email. “This is a fairly comprehensive list that covers many of the warnings that are pushed forward in the new rules.”

The Cannabis Right to Know Act is also opposed by activists including the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. If passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsome, SB 1097 would go into effect on January 1, 2025.

The post California Bill Would Require Warning Labels on Cannabis appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Let’s Talk About Sexism, Baby!

Before I landed in my current vocation of writing about weed, I worked so many different jobs that it’s a joke amongst my friends. I was a deckhand on a salmon tender for four glorious summers in Alaska. I was a tequila shot slinger on the dancefloor of a nightclub in London. I got really good at putting a condom on a banana when I toured high schools to talk to teens about safe sex. I acted in plays—a favorite of mine involved me dancing with my dead husband’s ashes in an urn. I’ve been a production assistant, data entry clerk, server, nanny, dog walker… Basically, since I left home at 16, I’ve done whatever it takes to pay the bills. I landed a job writing about weed at this publication over a decade ago, and since then, I’ve been fortunate to make a living by covering cannabis culture, trends, and news.

I’ve gotta say, of all the industries I’ve worked in, the weed industry has been the most frustrating when it comes to something that is going to make some of you grit your teeth—in my experience, it’s a deeply unpopular topic. I’m gonna go for it anyway.

Ok, so, guys, sexism and misogyny! Ugh, it’s exhausting. Let’s call it S&M to be more fun! Listen though, this is real: no matter how much S&M makes you roll your eyes, it’s something we need to talk about, because it’s getting worse.

We’re living in a tense time in every regard, at every level of society. It can feel relentless. I can trace my perpetual anxiety about things being fucked back to November 8, 2016—the night that California voters legalized cannabis for adult use. I was new to L.A., and I was proud to cover the election results for High Times. And we all know the other major news from that night: ye olde pussy-grabber Donald Trump won the presidency. And a ton of people in the cannabis community celebrated his win! I was gobsmacked, along with millions of women around the country.

For the next four years, we got stories like “Why President Trump Is Positioned To Be Marijuana’s Great Savior.” Well, let the record show that Trump’s attorney general Jeff Sessions unleashed federal prosecutors by rescinding the Cole Memo, his treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin refused to protect banks doing business with the cannabis industry, and zero federal reform took place on DJT’s watch.

Why is this b*tch whining about Trump in 2022, you may be asking yourself? Because—hit that joint you’re holding before continuing to read—in addition to his being a racist POS, and perpetuating the Big Lie, research shows that Trump made society more sexist.

Let’s focus that lens on the cannabis community. When I started writing about weed, and working at Cannabis Cups around the country, plenty of women were crushing it in the industry. It was a heady, optimistic time. In 2015, Newsweek published a piece titled “How Legal Marijuana Could Be the First Billion-Dollar Industry Not Dominated by Men.” I worked with many of those women, and I include myself when I say that we were buoyed up by the possibility of the Green Rush being a fair and equitable space. We believed that the Brave New World of Weed wasn’t going to be dominated by the usual players, and we wouldn’t have to fight for seats at the table; we were going to build the table together, and pull up any kind of chair/throne/beanbag we wanted (click the link for outdated stoner stereotype LOLs).

But women haven’t gained ground in the cannabis industry; along with minority executives and owners, we’ve lost it. Last year, the percentage of women holding executive positions in weed fell below the average of other U.S. industries. “Industry experts suggest that competitive markets tend to favor businesses with white men in ownership and leadership positions, primarily because of their established access to capital,” MJBiz reported. “More executives from mainstream sectors are opting into the cannabis industry as a new opportunity, accelerating the increase of white men in power positions.”

And wow, some of those guys are big mad at women! Just last week the CEO of an Oklahoma company was so rattled by a sales rep from a cannabis job platform including her pronouns in her email signature that he replied: “I don’t communicate with ignorant c*nts that cannot figure out what a woman is. You’re a she/her/hers? Please die so God can rectify his mistake.”

This is what I mean by things getting worse. Guys like this Hatey McHaterson feel emboldened in post-Trump America. When I started out covering cannabis, there were plenty of things to work on as far as equality and representation went, but I felt hopeful. Fast forward to a few months back, when a dude commented on a story I’d written that he was going to stuff his nuts into my mouth to shut me up. I’m fine, but I think we can do better when it comes to holding guys like this accountable. (Also, threatening to stuff your nuts into my mouth to shut me up is a crazy move that shows you have no concept of teeth.)

Last night, I ended up at an industry party where I chatted with three young women about how they felt about their place in the biz. Each of them had a story of dealing with some absolute fucking sexist nonsense. And each of them said they’re sticking with working in weed because they love it so much. We talked about our hopes for the future of cannabis, and how we should get to decide what it looks like. It shouldn’t be dumb Boys saying “no women allowed in the grow room,” as was alleged in a recent lawsuit. We shouldn’t have to worry about bullying and harassment. Wouldn’t it be fucking awesome if we made the weed industry the most inclusive, forward-thinking, beneficial environment for everyone who wants a seat at the table? Well, we can! But we sure can’t do it without men. And if you men want to know what you can do to make things better, start by supporting companies that support women. You don’t need to buy weed from assholes!

If you’re still reading, and you’re mad about what I’m saying, hit that joint again. Know that I am not mad at men. I am asking men to be mad on the behalf of all of the women who expect and deserve more from this industry and community. It doesn’t hurt you when we all do well; we’re not coming for your stake in the game. We’re saying that we can build something that’s truly new, with you. LFG.

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Four Cops Cleared of Charges in Fatal Shooting of Man Driving Weed Truck

A Siskiyou County, California district attorney announced on June 14 that four police officers will be cleared of charges after shooting and killing a man who drove a truck full of cannabis through a wildfire checkpoint.

But over the past year, witnesses and cops provided conflicting stories about what happened that day, which involved an Asian American worker.

In June last year, lightning ignited the devastating Lava Fire, and amid the chaos, things unraveled when they pulled over a man driving a truck with over 100 pounds of cannabis inside.

Officers were directing a line of vehicles leaving the area to escape the torrent of flames. Soobleej Kaub Hawj, 35, of Kansas City, Kansas, was driving a pickup truck that was loaded with 132 pounds of cannabis. He was most likely working for one of the many illegal greenhouses in the area. He also had firearms in the truck.

Police say that Hawj ignored orders to turn west onto County Road A-12, a main road at a checkpoint on June 24, 2021 as a fire ravaged a rural Big Springs area near the California-Oregon border, District Attorney Kirk Andrus said.

Officers say he panicked, fired a round at one of the officers, then they returned fire and shot him in the head, chest, arms, and legs. The police say they found a loaded .45 caliber Colt 1911 handgun on Hawj’s lap. Other assault rifles were found later.

However witnesses say over 60 shots were fired at the victim and that dash cam footage wasn’t released. The incident led to national outcry over suspicions about a possible anti-Asian American hate crime with the #StopAsianHate hashtag.

Officers attempted to clear their names. The Sacramento Bee reports that District Attorney Kirk Andrus sent out a nine-page letter Tuesday that outlined his findings to the officers’ supervisors at the Sheriff’s Office at the Etna Police Department and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In his letter, Andrus said the point of the checkpoint wasn’t to find cannabis but simply to get people out of the area before it was engulfed by flames. Hawj, however, may have thought he would be stopped and searched, Andrus said.

“He had a cash crop in the back of his truck that he apparently was willing to defend,” Andrus wrote. “He may have had the misapprehension that residents were being funneled into an area where they would be searched for marijuana. He would have been wrong.”

Police say Hawj also had an arrest warrant in Mesa County, Colorado, on a cannabis and gun-related charge.

Siskiyou County already banned large-scale cannabis cultivation, but as of last year estimated there were 5,000 to 6,000 illegal greenhouses growing weed in the Big Springs area.

Locals in the Big Springs area say the farms typically involve immigrant workers of Hmong and Chinese descent. Because of the renewed focus due to the case of Hawj, The Daily Beast profiled “the embattled Hmong community in Northern California” that typically end up trimming or working in cannabis fields.

Not everyone was buying the police story, which is what led to the investigation in the first place. The Southeast Asia Resource Action center released a joint statement with Hmong Innovating Politics last August when the case was still fresh.

“One witness said over 60 shots were fired at Hawj during the incident,” the organizations wrote. “In response, Zurg Xiong held an 18 day hunger strike pushing for the release of body and dash camera footage from the shooting and an independent investigation from a different agency. On July 21, Oakland City Councilmember Sheng Thao, Elk Grove School Board Trustee Sean Yang, Sanger Unified Board President Brandon Vang, and Sacramento City Council Member Maiv Yaj Vaj sent a letter to California Attorney General Rob Bonta requesting an independent investigation into Hawj’s death.”

“The shooting is the result of escalating racial discrimination against the Hmong and Asian American community in Siskiyou County, CA. In 2016, multiple incidents of voter suppression against Hmong residents by the Siskiyou Sheriff’s Office were reported. More recently, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors enacted water ordinances targeted at Hmong and Asian American farmers while being aggressively and disproportionately enforced by the Sheriff’s Office.”

You can read the letter in its entirety to California Attorney General Rob Bonta. Also, check out the petition to support Soobleej Kaub Hawj’s family, which ended up receiving over 14,000 signatures.

For the time being, it appears the officers are off the hook and will not face any criminal charges in the matter.

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California Drought Prompts Legislation to Increase Fines for Water Pollution for Illegal Grows

Two bills were recently introduced to prevent illegal cannabis cultivation efforts, which are using more water than ever in the wake of a historic California drought.

“Illegal cannabis farming is devastating the desert communities of San Bernardino County,” said San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman in a press release. “The County is determined to stop this terrible damage to the environment and to protect the lives and property of our residents from lawless criminals.”

The county is sponsoring Assembly Bill 2728, introduced by Assemblymember Thurston Smith, and Senate Bill 1426, introduced by Senator Anna Caballero, to tackle these concerns.

AB-2728 would increase the fines for illegal cultivation to $1,000 for each day of violation, and $2,500 for each acre-foot of water diverted (and if that measurement isn’t specified, $500 per plant). These stipulations would only take place in a “critically dry year immediately preceded by two or more consecutive below normal, dry, or critical dry years” in the event that the California state governor has issued a state of emergency. “Our state is dealing with an unprecedented number of illegal cannabis grows, particularly in the rural desert communities that I represent in the legislature. Because of this, our laws need to require compliance and ensure that illegal activity is punished,” said Smith about the bill. Most recently, AB-2728 was referred to a committee on June 1.

SB-1426 would punish “unauthorized tapping into a water conveyance or storage infrastructure or digging or extracting groundwater from an unpermitted well.” “Illegal cannabis farming is killing wildlife and wreaking environmental damage across the state,” Caballero said in a San Bernardino press release in March. “This bill will help stop the pollution of our groundwater supply and the theft of water, which are all the more important during an ongoing multi-year drought.” Currently, as of May 19 the bill is “Held in committee and under submission” for the time being.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has proclaimed a state of emergency for California’s drought three times so far in April, May, and July 2021 due to the impacts of climate change. In July 2021, he asked California residents to cut down on water usage with a goal of reducing water use by 15%. More recently in March 2022, Newsom shared that that goal was not met, and he asked local water agencies to “implement more aggressive water conservations.”

San Bernardino County is one of many regions in California experiencing dry conditions. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva explained the data in relation to the amount of water required to grow cannabis. “The average marijuana plant requires a minimum of 3 gallons of water per plant, per day,” said Villanueva, according to NBC Miami. “Just the 2021 numbers alone amount to 150 million gallons of water used to bring that crop to harvest. That’s just enormous.”

However, the amount of water that a cannabis plant needs to thrive is highly dependent on its location, growing medium, and current stage of growth. A 2019 survey called “A narrative review on environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation” estimates that outdoor cannabis requires 5.5 gallons per day per plant in August, and 5.1 gallons per day per plant in September, whereas indoor grown plants used 2.5 gallons in August and 5.1 gallons in September. Ultimately, the study stated that cannabis plants need much more water and nutrients to thrive, unlike other crops such as wheat, corn/maize, soybean, cotton or rice.

Another study published in October 2020, called “Water storage and irrigation practices for cannabis drive seasonal patterns of water extraction and use in Northern California,” stated that legal cannabis cultivation farms use groundwater wells more often than other water sources, such as streams, captured rainwater, springs, and municipal water systems. “Our findings indicate that water extraction from farms using groundwater wells generally occurs during the summer dry season and highlight the need to assess their potential impacts to connected surface water in streams,” the study authors wrote.

Assemblymember Tom Lackey, a longtime resident of the California high desert, issued a statement of his own in regards to water being used and polluted by illegal cultivators. “To any of those who are engaged in the illicit grows: I want you to know there’s a collective effort, and we’re coming after you,” Lackey said at a press conference on May 18. “You come after a very sacred thing: our community. You come after our desert, and you’re stealing our water. You’re poisoning our land, and enough is enough.”

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Sticker Farmer’s Ben Pechetti Is One Solid Motherfucker

Sticker Farmer pushes uniqueness. The branding and marketing company doesn’t want to make a copy of a copy. Founder Ben Pechetti, who’s been smoking and making art since he was a teen, has always done things his own way; his journey and his company is nothing if not unique.

The artist and businessman’s career started with a school assignment and a High Times magazine. “My first weed brand I made, I made a collage from a High Times magazine when I was 16 years old,” he recalled. “I printed this on a t-shirt. I spelled out the words ‘gone crazy,’ ransom style. I built my first weed company in 1996 out of a High Times magazine. Yeah, the whole fucking brand off of it. It leads to where I’m at, which is doing over $5 million a year in weed branding and now moving into a whole other space with NFT.”

Courtesy of Sticker Farmer

Pechetti’s first product, the weed t-shirt, began as a school assignment. It wasn’t well-received by a teacher, but it was by everyone else. “I got the nastiest letter from my art teacher,” he shared. “The letter said, ‘If you’re going to choose to make this your focus, it’s going to be hard to be successful.’ The next assignment she gives us is a silkscreen shirt. Again, I came back with my weed project. I printed one shirt. I walked out of class that day, and everyone had to have that shirt. I already had a little crew of dudes I was running with, artists or rappers or little businessmen, hustlers. The t-shirt ends up evolving into a sweatshirt. I got 100 kids, parents writing me a $40 check to pre-order the hoodie.”

Courtesy of Sticker Farmer

For the next few years, Pechetti continued to make sales with his team of determined hustlers. “The group dissipated around 2000, but we made a lot of progress,” he added. “I co-founded another company called Chubby Greens at that time. Chubby Greens was based around nightlife promotions, art, and music. I was 20 years old. We had a building, a business logo, t-shirts and jackets for a whole new company.”

When the new business boomed, he met his wife-turned-business partner, Lesley Van Dalsem. It was another key building block in everything that led to Sticker Farmer. “I changed my focus, and I go learn the sign business,” he said. “I worked at Fast Signs, and I worked at Signarama. I work at these other independent graphic shops. I’m learning about these machines and their resources. At one point, I’m having a hard time with one of my employers, because I’ve always had that challenge, being a good employee.”

Courtesy of Sticker Farmer

Pechetti gives credit where credit is due with his success, such as his wife and his mother. “My mom comes to me and she says, ‘I know you’re having a hard time with that company,’” he recalled. “‘If you want to take a loan, I’ll help you get a loan to start a business.’ This is 2008. My mom puts up $14,000. She helps me get a business loan for $50,000. I buy two or three basic machines. These machines are capable of doing signs, graphics, banners, universal stuff. From 2008 until about 2015, I ran your average sign shop business [called Big League Printing]. I was living in a warehouse for five years with my wife, which is now Sticker Farmer’s headquarters.”

Big League Printing involved corporate gigs and another company, Hustleheads, which Ben started with artist Miguel Lopez. Ben finally returned to his roots, working with the street scene. “It was successful,” the self-described Bay Area guy told us. “I was dedicated to the Warriors and the Raiders. I’m making money in the parking lots. I told myself, I’m going to try for two years on Hustleheads. I killed it. I went to every Raiders game. We hand-cut the products until we could afford to get the machines to cut them. Through that process, I ended up getting myself into a lawsuit with one of the biggest companies in the world.”

Courtesy of Sticker Farmer

It wasn’t all bad news, though, as Ben had developed a strong following. Out of the ashes of his previous hustle, Sticker Farmer was born. “I had an Instagram for one year named Sticker Farmer that I didn’t use,” he said. “I made it in the middle of Hustleheads because I was starting to get weed customers. I looked at my wife that day, and I said, we’re gonna start doing Sticker Farmer. We already have a printing shop. We already had the branding. I already had the network. I activated Sticker Farmer, because everyone was like, this is the dude that did Hustleheads, right? It leads to where we are today. I went on a crazy run with Sticker Farmer, doing [designs for] Lemon Tree and Golden State Banana.”

Courtesy of Sticker Farmer

2017 was the year the company started rocking, making a name for itself and cannabis brands. It didn’t take long for Ben to leave his own personal stamp on the industry, either. “I cut a sticker and put it on a fucking 14 by 16 Mylar bag,” he said. “I made the pound bag with a sticker on it. I came up with that. It changed the game. Every fucking rap video right now. It was so fucking corny to me when I first did it. I now have 30 employees and have five locations in California. All of them are up and running and fucking successful. I’m evolving into this crypto NFT now.”

Throughout Sticker Farmer’s success, he has had the ideal partner in Lesley Van Dalsem. “She’s a big fucking deal,” he said. “Her and I are both graphic designers. We are together curating this entire NFT collection. She’s doing the most intricate details on this NFT project, the things that are going to separate us from other projects.”

Courtesy of Sticker Farmer

Together, the partners intend to build a community for artists to connect, sell, and grow their businesses. “I’m building a networking community, full of resources for people who want to build brands,” he said. “That’s specifically what it is, but it’s going to entail a lot more. There’s gonna be a bunch of people who own silkscreen shops, a bunch of people who are graphic designers. I’m doing an art contest right now. I’m giving away $10,000 to artists to basically participate in my art contests and put their art in my Discord. We’re giving out NFTs to artists for joining our art contests. I’m trying to pull this sick ass conglomerate of artists and dope people.”

For Pechetti, Sticker Farmer is about uniqueness, but the business is also about loyalty. The artist believes in his projects, like his first deep-dive into the world of NFT, because he knows his aim always has been and always will be true. “I keep it 100 all the time,” he concluded. “And that’s the reason that I’m still out here doing this is because I’m a solid motherfucker. If I was a fucking piece of shit, you can’t do business with the amount of motherfuckers that I do business with, and the type of people I do business with, unless you’re on fucking point.”

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3 Fuel-Forward Strains to Heat Up Summer

Mason jars, also known as canning or fruit jars, are glass jars used to pickle and preserve foods at home. Many cannabis breeders and cultivators still use the same jars that grandma would use to preserve summer fruits and make jam in to store their flowers. In cannabis circles, the sound of a Mason jar opening—that tin-plated steel slide of the screw band along the glass followed by the pop of the lid—is an auditory trigger that some dankness lies within. If you’re ever at a pot party where someone shows up with a bunch of canning jars still in the 12-pack cardboard box they came in, edge closer. Sightings of any kinds of jam jars at cannabis-themed events are visual cues that incredible weed will soon be ogled, smelled, and smoked.

Photo by Ginja.Club

This was the scene at a cannabis tasting event I attended in San Francisco last week, where many jam jars filled with frosty buds were present. Hosted by Neil Dellacava of Chronic Culture, the party was a celebration of the recent indoor harvest of Snowtill Organics.

Attending an affair like this in Northern California, the traditional home of new cannabis genetics in America, is a chance to find out what trends might come next in the marijuana marketplace. Alongside four courses of Italian fare were eight courses of cannabis cultivars: Kushtaka, GMO Rootbeer, Piescream, Horchata, Snow Plums, Bubble Burst, Motorbreath OG, and Electric Sugar.

“We want to show people really high quality, freshly harvested cannabis,” Snowtill cultivator Joseph Snow says of the selections he brought to the event.

Joseph Snow of Snowtill Organics / Photo by Ginja.Club

Each of the strains in the tasting was grown in the style that Snow prefers, no-till. No-till is a farming technique typically found outdoors. It involves growing plants by building soil rather than tilling it (turning the soil repeatedly until it’s broken up.). Components of no-till cultivation include things like cover crops. These companion plants improve the soil by adding back in needed nutrients like nitrogen and attract beneficial insects to hunt pests cannabis growers don’t want to see in their gardens such as aphids.

At the event, Snow introduces the strains by breaking off small bits of the buds and encourages attendees to squish the nugs in their fingers to amplify the aromas, aka the terpenes, to smell the samples. I hone in on three of the night’s selections that each develop upon the classic dank chemical fuel aromas and tastes of Kushes, the family of cannabis landraces originating from the Hindu Kush mountain range between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Kushtaka / Photo by Ginja.Club

Lineage: (Deep Chunk x Peanut Butter Breath) x El Viejo Del Norte
Breeder: Aurora Genetics

Austin Miller, the breeder behind Aurora Genetics, explains he combined Deep Chunk (a landrace indica from Afghanistan introduced by breeder Tom Hill) from a Cabin Fever Seeds release. Once he found a plant that “smelled like botanical BO and jalapeños,” he crossed it with Peanut Butter Breath from ThugPug Genetics. In terms of the Peanut Butter Breath (a cross between Dosidos and Mendo Breath F2 that tastes Kush-like, but also nutty and sweet), Miller says he found a phenotype that “smelled like Starburst.” From that combination, he made a Deep Chunk x Peanut Butter Breath that “smelled like sweet pine and a little musky fuel.”

The El Viejo Del Norte—a (Redwood Kush F3 x Angel) x Redwood Kush F3—came from Boneyard Seeds NorCal.

“I found a very vigorous male with a first branch set smelling like fresh onions,” Miller says of the El Viejo Del Norte father he used to create Kushtaka.

The sample of Kushtaka I try smells and tastes mostly like chemical fuel, but there’s also a faint hint of woodsy sweetness.

“Kushtaka was pheno #5 of more than 30 popped and was by far the heaviest yielding and nastiest smelling plant out of a mix of chocolates, industrial chemicals, and some deep red fruits,” Miller says. “Kushtaka has a petrichor-petroleum-burnt smell.”

Piescream / Photo by Ginja.Club

Lineage: Wedding Pie x (Gelato #33 x Cherry Limeade)
Breeder: Freeborn Selections

Freeborn Selections breeder Mean Gene is one of the most awarded and well-respected breeders in cannabis today. Mean Gene explains to High Times that Skunktek of Skunkbank Genetics selected the Wedding Pie (A Wedding Cake x Grape Pie) from Cannarado. The Wedding Pie was combined with a strain that took Mean Gene’s Cherry Limeade (Black Lime Reserve x Cherry Pie) and crossed it with Gelato #33 (Sunset Sherbet x Thin Mint GSC). 

“Bred by Mean Gene, our cut is the 27th selection from Skunktek’s pheno hunt of this seed stock from Mean Gene. Hence ours is specifically called Piescream #27,” Snow says of the sample at the Chronic Culture event.

This one is my personal favorite of the three on this list because it favors fruit over fuel. My bud sample has purple frosted tips and smells like sugared cherries dipped in gas. It’s incredibly resinous and has a doughy fruity taste that resembles berry streusel.

“If you hate fruity weed, you’ll love [my strains] because they are so gnarly at the same time,” Mean Gene says in an interview for the Emerald Cup. “But if you love fruity weed, you’ll love these since they have really sweet hints to them as well.”

GMO Rootbeer / Photo by Ginja.Club

GMO Rootbeer
Lineage: GMO x Rootbeer x (Rootbeer x Jaro)
Breeder: Skunktek

Selected by SkunkMasterFlex1 of Skunkhouse Genetics from a pack of D-Cookies by Mamiko Seeds, GMO (aka Garlic Cookies) is a cross of Girl Scout Cookies and Chemdawg that is known for being pungent, resinous, and potent.

GMO Rootbeer from Skunktek takes the GMO and crosses it with Rootbeer x (Rootbeer x Jaro). Mean Gene explains that his Rootbeer is Headband x (Hollywood Pure Kush x (Hindu x Black Afi), and his Jaro is Sour Diesel x (Hollywood Pure Kush x (Hindu x Black Afi).

“Jaro and Rootbeer have the same father,” Mean Gene says.

GMO Rootbeer has that spicy, pungent garlic funk of GMO combined with the skunky diesel aromas of those old-school Afghani genetics popular in Mendocino that Mean Gene is known for. This is a GMO cross worth seeking out.

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California BIPOC Cannabis Operators Rally in Sacramento for Tax Relief

A group of licensed cannabis business owners rallied on the steps of the California capitol on Thursday to bring attention to the impact high cannabis taxes have on independent entrepreneurs. The demonstration, which was held in response to the proposed state budget released by Governor Gavin Newsom last month, was organized by Supernova Women, an Oakland nonprofit that works to create opportunities for Black and Brown people in the cannabis industry.

The rally featured more than fifty cannabis business owners, patients, and policymakers who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) and gathered to call for several changes to the state’s cannabis regulations, including eliminating the cannabis excise tax for licensed social equity businesses.

“I have been in business 3 years and we have paid half a million dollars in excise taxes alone, and this is in addition to a state excise tax and a 4% city tax,” said Maisha Bahati, founder and owner of Sacramento licensed cannabis retailer Crystal Nugs. “This business has to survive. Failure is not an option for me. I’ve put everything I have into this business and being a social equity business taxed at 40% is killing me and my dreams of creating generational wealth for my children.”

Budget Proposal Temporarily Reduces Pot Taxes

On May 13, Newsom released a budget proposal for the 2022-2023 fiscal year that included temporary tax relief for licensed cannabis businesses. Under the proposal, Proposition 64, the 2016 ballot measure that legalized recreational pot in California, would be amended to eliminate the cultivation tax paid by cannabis growers.

But those attending the rally in Sacramento on Thursday say the proposed tax relief does not go far enough and are calling on Newsom and state legislators to take further action before the budget deadline on July 1. The proposal calls for the state to repeal the cannabis excise tax for social equity businesses, reduce the cannabis excise tax to 5% for all other companies, and codify a statewide definition of social equity to establish eligibility for the state excise tax exemption.

“Governor Newsom promoted Prop. 64 less as an opportunity for tax revenue and more as a historical opportunity for racial and social justice and economic empowerment—to remedy the damage of a drug war that had disproportionately criminalized Blacks and Latinos,” Amber Senter, rally organizer and executive director of Supernova Women, explained in a statement before the event.

“And yet five years later, California’s Black and Brown cannabis operators, many of whom voted for Newsom not once but twice, are literally sitting on the brink of extinction, due to onerous state taxes, while the Governor sits on a $100B surplus,” Senter continued. “Where is the racial and social justice in that? Without meaningful tax reform NOW, California’s few remaining BIPOC cannabis operators and social equity businesses will not survive, and the communities and patients they serve will not be able to access affordable and safe cannabis. This is a major health crisis today and a missed economic opportunity for tomorrow.”

Two Bills Would Provide Cannabis Tax Relief in California

In a video released last week, state Senator Steven Bradford expressed his support for the goals of Thursday’s rally. Bradford is the sponsor of two bills to provide tax relief to cannabis businesses and their owners, including Senate Bill 1281, which would eliminate the cultivation tax and reduce the cannabis excise tax from 15% to 5%. Separate legislation, Senate Bill 1293, would allow a $10,000 tax credit against the Personal Income and Corporation Tax for social equity applicants and licensees.

“Without meaningful changes to California’s cannabis tax policy, the industry is destined for failure, especially equity cannabis operators who are operating on a very thin margin,” Bradford said in the video posted online.

The demonstrators at Thursday’s rally are also seeking changes to the social equity provisions in California. Under state law, social equity programs, which are presently governed by local jurisdictions, are not permitted to consider race or ethnicity as eligibility criteria. Rally organizers recommend a new statewide definition establishing eligibility for businesses with at least 51% ownership by someone who has lived for at least five years in a low-income community disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs or by a person with an immediate family member who has an arrest or conviction for a pot-related offense.

“In 2020, 75% of cannabis-related arrests in Los Angeles were Blacks and Latinos, according to LAPD records,” said Whitney Beatty, CEO of L.A. weed speakeasy Josephine & Billie’s. “With Los Angeles’ majority-minority population, L.A. alone could help rewrite our state’s recent history of white operators dominating an industry that has physically, emotionally, psychologically, and economically imprisoned so many BIPOC people… but not without true tax reform at the State level that protects our vulnerable social equity operators and BIPOC patients.”

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California Uses Cannabis Tax Revenue to Grant $35.5 Million to Community Organizations

The California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (also referred to as GO-Biz) announced on June 1 that it would be granting $35.5 million worth of cannabis tax revenue to community efforts.

The funds come from the California Community Reinvestment Grant program, which will be directed to organizations that help with job placement, mental health treatment, substance use disorder treatment, system navigation services, legal services to address barriers to reentry, and linkages to medical care.

“We’re proud to announce 78 grants totaling $35.5M in awards through the California Community Reinvestment Grants (CalCRG) program. These grants will help serve communities across CA that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs,” the organization wrote on Twitter.

In a press release, GO-Biz shared the need to use cannabis tax funds for specific communities that are in need of aid. “Harsh federal and state drug policies enacted during that period led to the mass incarceration of people of color, decreased access to social services, loss of educational attainment due to diminished federal financial aid eligibility, prohibitions on the use of public housing and other public assistance, and the separation of families,” the release states.

Furthermore, GO-Biz Director and Senior Adviser to Gov. Gavin Newsom Dee Dee Myers shared a statement regarding the continued success of the program. “Now in its fourth year, the California Community Reinvestments Grants program continues to be an important tool for communities that still face systemic restrictions and barriers to opportunity and equity,” said Myers. “This latest round of awards will support the economic justice and well-being of communities across our state that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.”

A total of 78 organizations were chosen across California, located in the counties of Alameda, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and more.

Among the recipients receiving the highest amount of $900,000 includes JobTrain, GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles, Inc., Community Partners as a fiscal sponsor of Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership, and Recovery Café San Jose. Most others, such as the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Inland Valley Drug and Alcohol Recovery Services, Kitchens for Good, Inc., will be receiving $450,000.

In 2021, the program sent out 58 grants for a total of $29.1 million and in 2020, $30 million was earmarked for a variety of cities and counties.

Since California legalized adult-use cannabis in 2018, the state has collected $3.76 billion in total tax revenue, according to a press release posted on May 26 by the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration. This includes $1.91 billion from cannabis excise taxes, $467.75 million from cultivation taxes and $1.38 billion from sales taxes.

Recently, Gov. Newsom’s budget proposal set aside $150 million to reduce cannabis taxes. He said in a press statement that the temporary reduction will help aid small cannabis business owners, and also curb illegal sales. “This is [the] beginning of a process from my humble perspective, in terms of my thinking,” Newsom said. “This will be a multi-year process to get that black market, get it on the retreat—not the ascendancy—and to get the retail and responsible adult-use market on steady ground.”

Earlier this year, California announced that it would be granting nearly $100 million to local governments and jurisdictions that would help bolster their cannabis programs, and make them more efficient. The Department of Cannabis Control Director Nicole Elliot explained that this grant money would help communities with specific needs. “Significant funding is being directed to process improvements and environmental assessments, both of which will help the state and local governments achieve short- and long-term goals,” Elliot said. The most highest amount was awarded to the city of Los Angeles for $22,312,360, Humboldt County with $18,635,137, and Mendocino County with $17,586,406.62.

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From the Archives: Gettin’ High in Surf City (2001)

By Cannabiz Chris

The sweet aroma of marijuana burning is commonplace. So, too, is the possibility of having a joint handed to you by a stoned stranger. Where the redwoods meet the sea, the Northern California beachside city of Santa Cruz has it all—culture, opportunities for an outdoor lifestyle and a laid-back vibe that is all-inclusive, especially toward marijuana.

Santa Cruz is well-known for its liberal political climate toward medical-marijuana legalization. Last year, voters overwhelmingly passed an ordinance authored by Valerie Corral, the founder of WAMM, a local nonprofit provider organization, which enables local residents to obtain medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. In fact, if you have the proper documentation, you can actually book a room at the Bed, Bud and Breakfast Inn in Santa Cruz, where medical-marijuana users can smoke comfortably in a homey, secure setting. Even local law enforcement seems to realize the futility of busting harmless pot-smokers who pose no threat to society. Their priority is to go after largescale commercial operations, and they have left medical pot patients and reefer-loving locals to smoke in relative peace. Which is nice, because the topography of Santa Cruz is a sensory circus—green forests, windswept beaches and a rugged Pacific coastline with secret coves hidden away from view. Jagged cliffs drop into deep blue water. Rustic lighthouses stand staunchly of craggy rock perches while scores of lounging, barking seals create a cacophony.

The town is also a surfing Mecca, worldrenowned for out standing, year-round waves. The surf world knows that the SC boyz are a bunch of cool, down-to earth dudes who are pushing the limits of the sport on all levels while maintaining a high standard of heavy-duty puffing. You can get an eyeful of these wave acrobats from the cliffs and bluffs of Santa Cruz’s prime surf spots. They battle the toughest-ass waves in frigid 50-degree water and keep their eyes peeled for sharks. Surfing is a spiritual sport and cannabis is a spiritual plant. Smoking relaxes the surfer and sets the proper frame of mind for riding waves. Surfers say it enhances their creative ability. Whether aerialist tricksters, big-wave chargers or cruising long-boarders, pot pushes them to perform their best in the water.

But there’s much more to SC than just the surf scene. Discovered in 1769 by the Spanish explorer Don Gaspar de Portóla, Santa Cruz was established in 1850 as one of the first counties of California. Fishing, agriculture and logging were the main industries as the town developed, and a variety of races and cultures from around the world contributed to its growth, exploiting the region’s cornucopia of natural resources.

Landmarks were erected. In the early 1900s, the Swanson family created the Beach Boardwalk and Casino Amusement Park, attracting people nationwide, while the outdoor Pacific Garden Mall became the city center. Since then, the county has set aside an impressive tenth of the region for 19 state parks, and has preserved 13 miles of beachfront.

Although the October ‘89 earthquake, 7.1 on the Richter scale, destroyed the downtown area, including the Pacific Garden Mall, the community rebuilt quickly and has thrived. Art and cultural events take place every week, and local college students and townsfolk commingle on weekends at a variety of premier music venues. You can be, dress, act or look like whatever you desire. No one really cares. Diversity is accepted. Nearly every ethnic group is represented here. Sexual orientation is hardly given a thought. It’s also an organic-food heaven. In fact, the county is one of the nation’s leaders in organic-food production. Dozens of health-food stores carry the freshest fruits and vegetables, plus a supreme array of whole-food products. Growers have discovered that Santa Cruz provides ideal conditions for growing premium pot—rich, fertile soil and an average high temperature of 69°F. The unspoken truth is that a lot of residents grow, in backyards, indoor growrooms and hidden in the middle of the Santa Cruz wilds. People love their weed here. No two ways about it. But more importantly, the citizens of Santa Cruz are establishing a model for other municipalities. They are finding out exactly what transpires when you lay the foundations for responsible marijuana use. Absolutely nothing. Life goes on. Happily.

High Times Magazine, October 2001

Read the full issue here.

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Sean Paul Discusses New Album ‘Scorcha’ and Fine Cannabis

Jamaica’s Sean Paul returns to the dancehall throne, and expectations are high with A-list featured guests on the album representing various facets of the music industry. Paul dropped his eighth full-length studio album and Island Records debut, Scorcha, on May 27.

Scorcha provides a party blueprint for the weekend, led by the single “Light My Fire” with Gwen Stefani and Shenseea. The new album also includes previously released songs “Scorcha,” “Only Fanz” (ft. Ty Dolla $ign), “Dynamite” (ft. Sia), “How We Do It” (ft. Pia Mia), and “No Fear” (ft. Damian Marley and Nicky Jam).

Paul recently earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Reggae Album for his seventh studio album Live N Livin, which was released last year, after winning a Grammy Award for Dutty Rock in 2013. While Live N Livin was more of straight heavy dancehall, he’s honing in on a club vibe this time around.

High Times caught up with Paul inside Fingerprints Music, located on 420 East 4th Street in Long Beach, California, before his performance later that night at The Novo in downtown Los Angeles.

“It’s not really a formula,” Paul told High Times, referring to his methods in the studio. “It’s just what feels good at the time. Last year was more hardcore danchall feeling, and this year’s more of a scotch feeling, you know what I mean. I’m feeling to touch the clubs with it, but also there is some growth on the album on some introspective songs. I think people should enjoy it, bro.”

He’s upping the ante with Pia Mia and Stefani to spice things up. “How We Do It” showcases Pia Mia’s skills with a club banger and a watery music video to go with it. In “Light my Fire” Stefani asks to “take me higher,” boosted with Shenseea’s vocals, providing a nice dancehall flavor.

“A wholly good production—a lot of dope artists on there,” Paul said. “From Sia to Pia Mia, Gwen Stefani to Shenseea, Nicky Jam, Stylo G, and Jada Kingdom, Tove Lo, Ty Dolla $ign. Lots of great performances on there. It’s also just a lot of energy. You know what I mean.”

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Paul witnessed the illicit side of cannabis within his own family early on. His father was deported from the U.S. after crashing a cannabis cargo plane in the Everglades in 1982—one of the ways High Times founder Tom Forçade made money before going into publishing.

Nowadays, licensed distributors are commonplace. On the legal side, Paul warned that typical dispensary weed “tastes like cardboard.” That’s why he’s very selective about the dispensaries he goes to, including Lemonnade (a Cookies dispensary brand).

“So what me a smoke ‘pon?!” Paul asked with a huge grin as he rubbed his hands together. “Every’ting from a version of what Lemonnade gave me. Big up Steve Lobell. As well as KushCo. and all of dem people. They treat me good around here. Me and dem try to develop a strain. Right now they have something called White Truffle OG. Which is bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad stinky.”

“That’s what I’m blazing on,” Paul said.

High Times recently interviewed Lobell inside the Lemonnade Van Nuys location. Lobell has been a music executive for over 35 years, working with everybody in hip-hop and related genres from Run-D.M.C., Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Nipsey Hussle, Three 6 Mafia, Eazy-E, The Outlaws, Fat Joe, Big Pun, and so on. Lobell launched Lemonnade with Berner, which falls under the Cookies brand.

If you’re curious about the strain, White Truffle OG appeared recently on Instagram from accounts like Michigan-based Frost Farms, and it appears to have made its way to California.

Be sure to check out Scorcha via Island Records and see how Paul is taking over the clubs once again.

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