The Emerald Cup Harvest Ball Becomes Epic Event in 2022

For nearly two decades, the Emerald Cup (EC) has honored the very best of Californian sungrown cannabis. The festival underpins the heritage of small-batch craft cultivators in Northern California, infusing it with the best of music, art and cannabis. The community-focused celebration has evolved from the first event in 2004, held at Area 101 in Laytonville, into a prestigious cannabis awards show and product exposition in Sonoma and, most recently, Los Angeles.

Founder Tim Blake, a self-described “old-school outlaw,” has come to be recognized as a custodian of cannabis culture. His support of small farmers in their time of need is unwavering; his recognition of the need to integrate with the biggest current cannabis players such as Cookies is visionary. And the fact that he’s doing all this while encouraging and engaging in progressive conversation with government departments is a testament to his passion for the plant and his relentless drive for education and innovation. 

In the lead-up to this year’s event, Blake spoke to Cannabis Now about the cup’s evolution, lessons learned from previous years and what we can expect from the action-packed 2022 Emerald Cup Harvest Ball.

Celebrating at the Montalbán Theater for the 2022 Emerald Cup Awards. PHOTO Beard Brothers Pharms

The Emerald Cup Awards

One of the core pillars of the Emerald Cup is the recognition of advocates who have campaigned tirelessly for the plant. Previous winners from the community include SweetLeaf Joe, Eric McCauley and Pebbles Trippet. One of Blake’s fondest memories of the cup was in 2013 when Dennis Peron, the father of medical cannabis and legendary activist, agreed to accept his Lifetime Achievement Award on one condition—that he could also be married on the stage. Sadly, Peron died a few years later and Blake remembers it as “the most incredible moment.”

“They called up and said, ‘We’re gonna take your award, but we’d like to do a marriage ceremony on the stage’. I thought, ‘we’re gonna do a gay marriage ceremony on the stage at the Emerald Cup because if Dennis asked, we’re doing it.’ And then we went ahead and did it. What an incredible part of history to say we were part of.”

Blake recalls when he first heard “prominent people such as Cheech” were coming into the industry. When Willie Nelson was nominated, he wanted the award’s title changed to the Willie Nelson Award, which, Blake recalls, “made it much easier to get higher-profile people.” The 2022 recipient, Woody Harrelson, is well-known for his Hollywood hits and cannabis and hemp advocacy.

For this year’s award ceremony, Blake and his team brought the spirit of the Emerald Triangle down to Los Angeles on May 14. The event coincided with the opening of Harrelson’s new West Hollywood-based dispensary, The Woods and they appeared together on the front page of LA Weekly. Blake’s voice reveals all the love and admiration he has for Harrelson as he tells me about the energy and support the actor has shown sungrown farmers.

“The invitation to the dispensary read ‘Woody Harrelson, Tim Blake and the Emerald Cup invite you to the opening of The Woods’and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, what an incredible thing for him to do’,” Blake says. “He started by telling us that we could only bring 100 people and we were thinking, “Who can we invite?” We had all of our contestants and all of our sponsors. And then it pushed out from 100 people to 200 people. On opening night, we overran the place. Woody had to pull back to the lounge with all the stars. He left our party early and I thought we’d done something wrong, but it turned out Paul McCartney had called him up and wanted to party with him.”

The following day, Blake says, the NorCal farmers met on the corner of legendary Los Angeles intersection Hollywood and Vine for a press photo-op before “walking en masse to the Montalbán Theater and took a picture with Pebbles Trippet in the middle of them. That was a wonderful moment and our small farmers realized that they, too, belonged in LA.” 

Following that, at the awards ceremony, Harrelson was up on the stage to receive the award, and, according to Blake, “he looked over at us and said, ‘You had more friends than I did at the opening last night!’ He was up on that stage doing stand-up for 20 minutes; he made joke, after joke, after joke. It was just amazing. He said, “You know, these are my people. this is my community.” Because he felt it. He’s protested before, he’s humble, he knows the scene. It was really touching. I love Woody forever for that. I can’t thank him enough for doing what he did.”

More love for Woody was in order

“I’m really proud that Woody looked into who we are and realized the Emerald Cup is an integrity-based, community-oriented show for the people, for small farmers, for sungrown cannabis—everything we are fits with him,” Blake says. “He’s evangelizing for sungrown for small farmers; he’s putting his name on the line. He’s the real deal.”

Swami and Tim Blake. PHOTO Kim Sallaway

Small Farms Initiative

At its core, the Emerald Cup celebrates the best sungrown, heritage, small-batch craft flower and its farmers. Sadly, since 2016, a brutal combination of taxation, licensing and market conditions has led Northern California’s cannabis community to an existential crisis. To show their support for the farmer’s plight, Blake, along with Michael Katz of the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance; Genine Coleman of Origins Council; Chris Anderson of Redwood Roots Distribution; Nicholas Smilgys of Mendocino Cannabis Distribution; Traci Pellar of the Mendocino Producers Guild and Brandy Moulton of Sovereign 707, created the Small Farms Initiative, which debuted at last year’s event.

“Last year, we ran a lottery system and gave away 23 booths and told people they could share them,” Blake says. “Next thing you know, we had 50 farmers in there, all for free. It was a tremendous success and really highlighted the plight of the small farmers.” 

The Harvest Ball is ramping up its support initiatives this year with sponsorship support from Harborside and Urbn Leaf. 200 farmers have been invited to the Harvest Ball to get their products directly in front of buyers in a direct sales “speed selling” environment. Eight booths have also been given to social equity brands from the Bay Area along with the small farmers. A “speed meeting” industry opportunity has also been arranged for small, craft and heirloom farmers to present their very best products to buyers and merchandisers, Blake explains. The Emerald Cup Buyers Club Meet & Greet scheduled on December 9 at the flagship Mercy Wellness’ new consumption lounge space.

The inability to offer direct-to-customers sales significantly impacts local farmers’ income options. Blake compares it to the early days of alcohol prohibition and how it took more than half-a-century before breweries and vineyards could sell direct to consumers at their cellar doors. It’s about giving farmers a chance to survive, he says. 

“It’s a big topic of conversation at this year’s Harvest Ball; we have panels on what we need to do to save these small farmers,” he says. “One of the main issues is direct sales.”

Blake acknowledges the historical animosity of the Emerald Triangle farmers who were devastated by the big groups that advocated for taking that cap off the small acreage as outlined in Prop 64, the 2016 initiative that legalized adult-use cannabis in California.

“The bill was specifically written to prohibit anyone from growing more than one acre of cannabis for five years,” he says. “This was done with the knowledge that if large-scale farming was immediately allowed, the small legacy farmers wouldn’t have time to get established or deal with the rapid price decreases that were inevitable. Two months into legalization, Governor Gavin Newsom went back on his promise and allowed large-scale farming, with support and advocacy from larger stakeholders. It created an extinction event for those legacy farmers in the Emerald Triangle and throughout the rest of the state. There’s a lot of anger and bitterness and resentment, which we have to deal with.”

However, he knows there has to be unity and that by coming together, they can make it work.

“We’re doing everything we can to give back to the farmers,” Blake says. “That’s what we’ve always been about.”

Tim Blake Discusses the Future of the Emerald Cup
PHOTO Gracie O’Malley for Cannabis Now

Working With the DCC

The Department of Cannabis Control caught some heat for its “heavy-handed” actions toward attendees and exhibitors at last year’s Harvest Ball. In true Blake style, instead of “calling them out” as he was encouraged, he chose the path of restoration and unity. Over the last six months, Blake, his team and the DCC have formulated a plan to allow vendor sampling in the Craft Cannabis Marketplace.

“We sat down with them and said, ‘Look, if you want to end events and you don’t want anybody to do events, then continue like this because nobody’s going to feel comfortable coming to the events’.”

This year, the DCC will have a discreet booth at the show so they can “interact with farmers and talk to people and brands.” A panel titled “A conversation with the DCC: How we can work together to make positive change” is also scheduled for Sunday, December 11, from 12-12.45 pm as part of the EC session in the garden annex.

Blake understands that “we need to work with the governor, we need to work with the DCC, we need to work with corporations. Everybody must come together, get around the table, and work it out.”

And it’s not just for the Emerald Cup, but for every event moving forward, Blake says. “Whether it’s a farmer’s market or somebody else’s event, we’re doing the work so that these can go about reasonably so everybody can have a good time.”

If you’re attending this year’s Harvest Ball, be sure to download the new app to learn more about the DCC’s panel. The app also allows you to create your own schedules for the two-day event, so you won’t miss any discussion panels or your favorite artists performing live on stage. The app will also let you curate your favorites list as you navigate your way booth-by-booth through the Craft Cannabis Marketplace—an absolute must to secure the world’s most highly sought-after seeds and clones, as well as the newest cannabis products.

Tim Blake inspects a jar of cannabis for the Emerald Cup Awards. PHOTO Rich Pedroncelli

The New Cannabis Classification System

One factor that makes the Emerald Cup so crucial to California’s cannabis market is its continued strive for excellence and education. For the 2022 awards, Blake and his team modified the judging process to reflect the advances of cultivars and chemovars. According to Blake, Alec Dixon, one of the co-founders of SC Labs, was the driving force behind the creation of the Emerald Cup Cannabis Classification System powered by SC Labs and PhytoFacts.

“Over the years, Alec started telling me, ‘Tim, we got to break up the way the judging gets done because it can’t be done this way’. Mark Lewis had been working on this system for quite some time and so it’s kind of a merger of us coming together. Together we’re trying to reframe the industry.”

One of the bonuses, Blake says, is that it allows for “all these different terpene profiles a chance to be recognized.” The new cannabis classification system separates and judges entries based on terpenes, flavor and effects. For Blake, it’s an excellent opportunity to educate the public about the nuances between different cultivars, encouraging them to learn about terpenes profiles instead of just going to the strain with the highest THC level. Because, says Blake, that factor alone has never won the cup. “That’s not what we’re looking for; it’s got to be something unique. It’s a wonderful learning and educational experience. It’s a wonderful process to recognize all the different varieties and cultivars and let them win. And it’s just been such a wonderful process to teach people about.”

Woody Harrelson accepts the Willie Nelson Award at the 2022 Emerald Cup Awards

The Emerald Cup Today

The Emerald Cup has undergone quite a transformation and is barely recognizable from the inaugural 2004 event that was “completely illegal,” according to its founder. Back then, it was purely a flower contest, with a handful of Emerald Triangle friends and farmers coming down from the mountains to show off their choices picks from that year’s harvest, with many hiding their identities to avoid prosecution.

Without Blake’s knowledge, hash debuted in the cup the following year, in 2005. Back then, hash could land you in jail for up to five years; this was still the Wild West of weed and extracts hadn’t yet entered the fray. In the following years, the cup opened up to seed sales, tinctures and other categories as the market and product offerings continued to increase.

Blake recalls the introduction of concentrates that “come from nowhere; there wasn’t even the word concentrate” that changed the cannabis landscape. He fondly recalls when Frenchy Cannoli, the revered hashish evangelist judged the awards one year and said, “‘That isn’t hashish.” And we said, ‘No Frenchy, it’s concentrates.’ That was a whole learning curve for him, for me, for everybody.”

The cup had no vendors or sponsors in those early days. The first to get onboard was SC Labs, one of the industry’s original testing labs. “People wondered what the heck they were doing there,” Blake says. “The first year the cup tested concentrates, there was a 75% fail. Within two years, we had that down below 5% because people realized they couldn’t get away with that anymore. It was really good that the testing cleaned it all up.”

Today, the cup has more than 40 categories, almost 50 with the inclusion of the awards—a fact that Blake calls “mind-boggling.”

“There have been so many industry changes over the last 20 years, so many different issues that have been dealt with as we’ve gone along the path, it’s really been something to see,” Blake says. “To watch that evolution has been an incredible thing.”

Blake’s daughter Taylor started helping her dad at the Emerald Cup in 2006 and about eight years ago, she started doing it full-time. “Everybody loves her so much and that she’s side by side with me,” Blake beams as he talks about his youngest child. The proud father says that Taylor plans to continue the family business.

“She can handle any part of the show,” he says. “I’m so proud that she stands with me and we do the cup together. And as I get older and retire, she’ll take the reins—the show’s in good hands.”

Taylor and Tim Blake at the 2017 Emerald Cup. PHOTO courtesy of Leafly

The Future of Cannabis

Blake believes that the federal legalization of cannabis will take place over the next couple of years and when it happens, the plant has a bright future—not just in California but worldwide. 

“Cannabis was a key aspect in just about every society in the world until it was demonized in the 1900s,” Blake says. “Most countries will soon legalize cannabis as well and we’ll see it in their people’s daily lives in one form or another, creating healthier, more vibrant cultures.” 

And even though the farmers are having a very rough time, Blake focuses on the positive angle in a way only he can.

“Watching cannabis go legal across the country so quickly, and across the world and then following that, the plant medicines and all the psychedelic medicines, it’s like, OK, we don’t have people going to jail. We have mainstream media or people embracing this; we got plant medicine coming in. And so the good that it’s done has to outweigh people’s personal needs. Because, at the end of the day, it’s about society and what we need to do for our world to heal it. And with cannabis and plant medicines, we’re healing the world.”

And that’s the world we all should be living in.

2022 Emerald Cup Harvest Ball, Sonoma County Fairground, Santa Rosa, California, on Saturday, December 10 & Sunday, December 11. Learn more about the event.

The post The Emerald Cup Harvest Ball Becomes Epic Event in 2022 appeared first on Cannabis Now.

A Thousand Words

Los Angeles-based fashion photographer Dorit Thies has made a career of pushing boundaries. So has cannabis journalist and marketer Eric Hiss.

By producing imagery that meshes art with nature, Thies has earned partnerships with the likes of Maye Musk, Kate Mara and Kristin Cavallari, among other familiar Hollywood names during a decades-long career in Tinsel Town. Hiss has written stories around the world for more than 50 major publications.

The duo’s latest passion project has taken them further north in California: “The Farm & The Feminine” chronicles the legacy, creativity and determination of women cannabis farmers in California’s iconic Emerald Triangle. Its four subjects—Tina Gordon of Moon Made Farms, Rose Willis of Huckleberry Hill Farms, Katie Jeane of Emerald Spirit Botanicals and Taylor Stein from Briceland Forest Farm—capture the rich gender and ethnic diversity of America’s most fertile region for outdoor cannabis growing.

Kate Jean, Emerald Spirit Botanicals

Hiss came up with the idea for the project out of a passion for the Emerald Triangle, where the pioneers of the cannabis industry have been perfecting genetics and farming top-shelf marijuana for generations. As multi-state operators move into the regulated market and produce at scale, “The Farm & The Feminine” aims to remind consumers how we got here by putting names to the female faces behind the industry’s early success.

“These women are the true pillars of our industry,” Hiss said. “None of this would exist without the craft folks in the Emerald Triangle. I realized we didn’t have any iconic imagery of these people, and felt we needed hero shots. This is a new narrative to portray these cannabis heroes as they should be.”

Rose Moberly, Huckleberry Hill Farms

To create such images required a special photographer, Hiss said, so he called longtime friend and colleague Dorit Thies. Before spending full days on the farms of the four women featured in the project, Thies admitted she had no previous experience with cannabis. It didn’t take long to bond with the farmers, though, thanks to a shared interest for sustainability.

“They’re biologists, they’re scientists and they’re involved with universal energy,” Thies says. “The way they harvest, it’s all about sustainability and doing it the natural way under the sun. I’ve always believed in these principles so it was very easy to connect with them.”

Tina Gordon, Mood Made Farms

Thies, who grew up in rural northern Germany, and Hiss, a fifth-generation Californian, spent a full day on each woman’s farm during peak harvest season late last summer. And unlike for most of her photo shoots, Thies brought only her camera for day-long tours—no tools, no lights and no props. To accentuate the farmers’ natural beauty, Thies kept her photos free of any touch ups.

The duo spent the early September days walking together with the farmers and using only items from their farms as props in the owners’ portraits. Thies adorned Katie Jeane of Emerald Spirit Botanicals with antlers and a colorful wreath to symbolize a type of nemes, the headcloth worn by pharaohs in ancient Egypt to signify high stature. She also took inspiration from legendary photographer Edward S. Curtis, whose work focused on the American West and the Native American people.

“I always used to draw from Greek mythology, too, and the imagery of powerful women,” Thies says. “I wanted to create metaphors in my images of women that represented the Greek goddesses.”

Taylor Stein, Briceland Forest Farms

Hiss said he and Thies considered 20 to 30 more women farmers in the region for portraits in “The Farm & The Feminine,” but time and budget constraints reduced the first season of the project to just four women. The duo said their project is ongoing and could add more subjects in the future.

“I couldn’t wait another harvest cycle for the first few,” Hiss said. “It was a now-or-never situation because these women are doing work that should be elevated and celebrated. I hope that we’re smart enough to realize we can have our (big corporations) and also protect space for our small operators. Just like craft beer folks bring us top-shelf beer and cult wine guys and craft distilleries bringing craft batches of mezcal, gin and tequila, we shouldn’t cut off our roots, man.”

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Higher Profile: Ingrid Hart & The Humboldt Honey

When Humboldt State University journalism major, Ingrid Hart, created the Humboldt Honey in 1983, she had no idea the young woman pictured wearing the uniform we’ve all come to know as part of the culture of cannabis would cause such a stir, or continue to be relevant to this day.

In the early 80s, posters posing the questions “Are you a Nerd?” or “Are you a Valley Girl?” were doing the same thing, detailing the wardrobes of a nerd from the film Revenge of the Nerds, or Moon Unit Zappa’s one hit wonder, Valley Girl, inspiring Hart to bring the Humboldt Honey to life, posing the question, “Are you a Humboldt Honey?”

“I created the poster of the young woman for myself, and never planned on printing more than one for my own room,” she explained. “At that time I didn’t know about press runs and that one poster would cost as much to print as one thousand, so I had the minimum printed at a thousand copies.”

While most in the community understood the uniform, the conservative faction of Humboldt County, comprised of the lumber and fishing industries, were appalled. How could someone glorify a character from the drug community? Everything they fought against and hated about the cannabis community was represented in this one photo of a hippie girl, and they were not happy about it.

On April 17, 1983, Humboldt’s daily newspaper, the Times-Standard, put the poster on the front page above the fold, helping it to sell out in less than two months. Hart had distributed it to about 15 shops around the county at four dollars each, with the intention of making it affordable for students.

“Sam Blackwell did a story for the Times-Standard,” she continued. “When the story ran my vibration was so high the posters ran out quickly and everyone wanted more. Then the nasty grams started and I received lots of hate mail. I’m an intuitive, sensitive person and it really affected me.”

She agreed to an interview on a radio station she was unaware leaned conservative, and was bullied live on air by callers hating on her Honey.

In those days there weren’t any cell phones, with phone number listings published in a physical phone book given free to every household with a landline. Hart said she ended up having to disconnect her phone to stop the calls.

“I shut the whole thing down,” she said. “I just couldn’t deal with the negative energy surrounding her. It was just too much for me. In my mind, she was a positive force to be reckoned with, not something to be hating on.”

In the 40 years since the first printing, Hart said she’s barely earned a penny from the Humboldt Honey, who she has never marketed or merchandised since she arrived on the scene in 1983. Albeit, except for one shop in Humboldt who has sat on a stack of posters for years, selling a few here and there as a novelty for tourists.

“After 40 years, this is a gift I’m giving back,” she surmised. “I never wanted to make money off of her, that would go against everything she represents and that I believe in. You can see it in her garb—she’s not a sell-out.”

Courtesy of Ingrid Hart

The Subject

As a journalism major at Humboldt State University, Hart’s Honey reflected much of herself and her values, shared by what the young woman was holding, reading, and subsequently advocating. 

Hart had studied each and every piece on the young woman, creating a prototype with her roommate first, then seeking out someone in the community to feature in the poster.

Her subject, Leoni Nicol, was found in front of the old quonset hut that was the first Arcata Co-op, in the Humboldt city known as 60s by the Sea. The photo was shot by local photographer, Patrick Cudahy, as technically his first commercial shoot.

Nicol was from Scotland and was just passing through town. We could assume she may have been a Trimmagrant, one of the thousands of young people who follow the growing season, trimming cannabis flower for money as they travel through the Emerald Triangle.

She wasn’t dressed as a Humboldt Honey when Hart found her. As an aside, Nicol had been part of British punk band, The Molesters. According to an article penned by Kevin Hoover, of the weekly, the band’s single can still be heard online at Rhapsody.com/themolesters.

“What she’s wearing represents what we all believe in, and what I believed in at the time and still do,” Hart said. “She even has Liberty Caps in a velvet pouch her bag, because I too was experimenting with psilocybin mushrooms at the time.”

As another reflection of the times, the hits of mushrooms were dubbed Liberty Caps, as they were said to liberate your mind. How ironic that the psychoactive mushrooms are now being widely accepted in the U.S. and around the world as medicine, used as a reset for a bevy of mental disorders, including depression. Proving further that our Humboldt Honey is still relevant today.

The Anatomy of the Humboldt Honey

You can still find the Humboldt Honey in the hills of Humboldt County, but her presence isn’t limited or confined to tending weed within the fertile redwood soil in Northern California. 

Around the world there are progressive communities who still aspire to the norms and beliefs of the 1960s, in which she was spawned. 

You’ll find the Humboldt Honey and her counterparts at The Farm in Tennessee; in Austin, Texas with its patch of blue in a sea of red; in the State of Vermont—said to be the Humboldt County of the east coast; in the south of France in Marseille, where they grow some of the finest weed in the country (turned into the finest hash); and in Amsterdam, where the High Times Cup was launched in 1988, just five years after the Humboldt Honey made her debut.

“She’s really about comfort and the farming life,” Hart said. “You wake up in the morning and it’s cold, so you layer. As the sun comes up, you peel off the layers. This look is all about practicality. But, she’s also making political statements of the times.”

Her layers are made of hemp and cotton. Her No Nukes t-shirt is part of her personal belief system. On her head is Bobby McGee’s dirty red bandana, made famous by the song, “Me & Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin. The button on her fringed hippy vest warns, Question Authority—something we are still doing today where cannabis is concerned.

High Times would have rather she hold a copy of its iconic magazine, but this honey is reading Rolling Stone, Mother Earth News, Mother Jones, and the book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by author Tom Wolfe; wherein he details his acid-laden, cross-country ride in the infamous converted school bus, Further, with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters.

And, of course, she’s holding a joint filled with Humboldt’s finest weed.

“Beloved plant medicine opens our Sixth Chakra and fills our minds and hearts with ideas and potential possibilities,” Hart surmised. “I probably wouldn’t have created this iconic being if a veil hadn’t have been lifted from my consciousness while in Humboldt. Because my life before Humboldt was completely different from the life I found to the north.”

Hart’s Humboldt Calling

Hart was born in Brazil, but the family moved to the United States and the conservative enclave of Orange County, California, when she was just seven years old.

“I loved the beach, but my third eye wasn’t opened up in Southern California,” she laughed. “I grew up in the 80s, in the time of Reagan—it was called the me generation—with an attachment to designer labels; the importance of what kind of car you drove, how big was your house, and what neighborhood you lived in. I grew up in a materialistic society in SoCal.”

After high school she first studied at Orange Coast Community College (OCCC), writing for the college paper, as a features writer, penning human interest stories.

“I first smoked cannabis in college—actually, after I met Sailene Ossman,” she explained. “We both worked at Hamburger Hamlet and we’ve been friends ever since. We did a lot of magic mushrooms together, made leis for our hair with flowers, wore dayglow colors and listened to Jefferson Airplane. She came up to Humboldt with me to check out the university, and we both fell in love with its alternative lifestyle. It felt like we came home for the first time being there.”

Ingrid and Sailene Ossman “tripping the lights fantastic” on Liberty Caps (psilocybin mushrooms) circa 1981 / Courtesy of Ingrid Hart

The two ended up attending the iconic North Country Fair on the Plaza in Arcata, still run by the “Same Old People,” founded in 1974, and still continuing today on the third weekend in September. There they purchased two old-school, cannabis-laden chocolate brownies out in the open in the middle of the event.

“There was food, music, and everyone was dancing,” she recalled. “It was a magical place and still is today. We were amazed that we could buy a pot brownie like that. It was a different world, but one we were anxious to be a part of.”

Ossman would go on to establish Venice Beach, California’s first cannabis delivery service. Today, she owns the Brewja Elixir in Joshua Tree, California, serving up CBD and herbal elixirs. Ossman has also penned a book on CBD Cocktails (Cider Mill Press, April 2020).

“I knew I would fall in love with the rivers, the ocean, and the redwoods,” Hart added. “But, I was also excited about living in a place that had a higher vibration with the plant, grown with love. And one thing I remember is, I never had to buy weed in Humboldt, because it was everywhere.”

Aside from a degree in journalism from Humboldt State University, Hart would go on to obtain a master’s degree in cultural spirituality from Holy Names University in Oakland, California. She’s also certified as a Conscious Aging Facilitator from the Institute of Noetic Sciences. 

As an author, Hart won an award for penning the book, My Year in California: A Journey Toward Midlife Renewal, detailing one year spent in California City, an experimental development from the 1970s, that Hart called, “a life affirming journey.”

The Humboldt Honey commemorative poster will be available January 1, 2023, sold at $25 each, still keeping it affordable, as the Honey would have wanted.

“Humboldt was a happy and carefree time for me,” she concluded. “The Humboldt Honey was a defining moment among many moments in Humboldt that would define my life, and still influences my life today. Many people say they left their heart in San Francisco, but I left my heart firmly planted five hours north of the city by the bay in Humboldt, where the spirit of the Humboldt Honey still lives today.”

For more information on the Humboldt Honey, or to pre-order the poster visit, www.thehumboldthoney.com.

The post Higher Profile: Ingrid Hart & The Humboldt Honey appeared first on High Times.

Cannabis Products, Perfect for Thanksgiving

If you’re reading this article, odds are decent you’ve already discovered the value of combining Thanksgiving and cannabis. Look no further than the time-honored tradition of cutting out to hit a joint down the street while the turkey’s being carved as proof of weed’s well-established place at our Thanksgiving feasts. 

But the modern industry has upped the stakes entirely, ushering in a new generation of edibles and products seemingly tailor-made for age-appropriate enjoyment at the dinner table. Offering a veritable cornucopia of cannabis delights, the fact of the matter is that it’s never been easier to go “green” at Thanksgiving by offering some THC-infused dishes that can be both meal and entertainment.

As you prepare for this year’s Thanksgiving, here are some suggestions for what to add to your shopping list. Running the gamut from pantry staples to palate-cleansing beverages, let’s just say the options for incorporating THC into Thanksgiving have never been stronger. All products below are available in California, and you must be at least 21 to purchase.

1. Kiva’s Turkey Gravy

Arguably the signature cannabis product of the Thanksgiving season, Kiva Confections’ Turkey Gravy offers 10mg THC per individual serving/package. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because Kiva’s been holding it down with award-winning chocolates and gummies for years. Now they’ve the hit gravy, which means those interested can substitute the household edition for this scrumptious mix of cannabinoids, rosemary, thyme and oregano. 

Uplift your dinnertime chats without ever having to conspicuously disappear, only to return 20 minutes later with guiltily red eyes and no excuse. Plus, it’s delicious! Available for a limited time, Kiva’s THC Turkey Gravy packets are a “break in case of emergency” kit you won’t want to be without this Thanksgiving.

2. Cann Cranberry Sage

Another ideal option for enjoying weed with discretion comes in the form of Cann’s festively flavored Cranberry Sage social tonics. Now a major player in the emerging cannabis beverage market, Cann undoubtedly had Thanksgiving in mind when they concocted this refreshingly tart winter flavor. Featuring an entirely reasonable 2mg THC and 4mg CBD per can, you can also rest easy knowing you don’t need to stretch out the contents over several hours’ worth of sips. Grab a six-pack and toast your clever success at dosing without needing to ditch the table. Another limited edition offering, Cann’s Cranberry Sage social tonics will have you saying “cheers” in no time.

3. SelfBaked THC Butter

A proper Thanksgiving often involves the baking of many pies. Some are familiar; others remain enigmas. But one thing these creations of crust and filling have in common: butter. That’s why new California cannabis company SelfBaked is making it easier than ever to infuse THC into the Thanksgiving baked desert of your choice. The star of the show is their Liquid Diamonds Butter. Packed with 1000mg of THC, this small tub of refrigerated, pre-infused butter offers a refreshingly easy way to add cannabis to any recipe calling for the ingredient. 

Directions on SelfBaked’s packaging makes substituting to your desired dosage a breeze. Reminder: Always take care to properly label and store any infused treats you bring to a family gathering. Responsible consumption is the best consumption!

4. Potli x Aster Farms Olive Oil

Like SelfBaked, Potli is a company that specializes in infused ingredients, rather than entire edible creations. So, they offer ingredients such as infused chili oil and infused honey that can then be added to any dish of your choice. When it comes to Thanksgiving, there’s any number of plates that might call for olive oil, which is why Potli’s limited edition collaboration with Lake County’s Aster Farms is a win for minds and tastebuds alike. 

Featuring Aster’s Watermelon OG and extra virgin olive oil sourced from nearby Lake County olive orchards, this limited release has you covered with 8mg THC per serving (100mg per package). Bring a touch of NorCal with you to wherever your Thanksgiving meal takes place with this sharp-looking tin of delectable liquid gold.

5. Kikoko Herbal Teas

At some point on Thanksgiving, you may want a break from the hard stuff. Alternatively, we’re talking about a holiday in late November here. It’s cold! Whether it’s time to give your liver a rest or simply the right moment for a steamy mug of something uplifting, Kikoko Herbal Teas are a boiling kettle away from curing what ails you. Available in five varieties (Sympa-Tea, Tranquili-Tea, Creativi-Tea, Sensuali-Tea, and Positivi-Tea) as well as varying potencies, Kikoko’s line includes something for every palate. Be it their caffeinated black Creativi-Tea (10mg THC) or their far subtler chamomile valerian Tranquili-Tea (3mg THC), each blend also features minor cannabinoids, complex flavors and a reliable experience you can count on in the clutch.

The post Cannabis Products, Perfect for Thanksgiving appeared first on Cannabis Now.

San Bernardino’s Operation Hammer Strike Concludes Illegal Cannabis Eradication

In a press release, the MET released data about the operation’s many successes. “Since August 26, 2022, MET investigators have served 127 search warrants at illegal cultivation locations, arresting 103 suspects,” the MET stated. “As a result of the search warrants, investigators have seized 158,906 marijuana plants, 29,897 pounds of processed marijuana, 30 firearms, 28,259 grams (62.3 pounds) of concentrated marijuana, 5,443 grams (11.9 pounds) of Psilocybin mushrooms, and seized approximately $1,643,688.00 in illicit proceeds. Investigators also eradicated 1,188 greenhouses found at these locations, and mitigated six electrical bypasses and seven Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) extraction labs.”

All of the investigations found offenders in violation of the California Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, as well as San Bernardino County ordinance, which does not allow commercial cannabis. The county also does not allow outdoor cannabis cultivation.

Although Operation Hammer Strike has concluded, the department states that county sheriffs will continue to investigate illegal cultivation. “The Sheriff’s Gangs/Narcotics Division will continue to enforce California’s cannabis laws and San Bernardino County’s cannabis cultivation and distribution ordinance. Persons found guilty of violating the state law and county ordinance are subject to fines, prosecution, and seizure of property.”

Operation Hammer Strike began in September 2021. At the time, there were an estimated 1,285 illegal grows reported throughout the county. In September, the MET began with a search warrant investigation of Hesperia, Pinon Hills, Phelan, and Landers, which resulted in numerous arrests and seizures of cannabis plants, processed cannabis product, firearms, and $30,000 cash. During the same month, another investigation yielded even more arrests and product seizures. This trend continued throughout 2021 and into 2022, with press releases describing the investigations in October 2021, November 2021, January 2022, February, and March.

In March, San Bernardino County sponsored state legislation with Assembly Bill 2728 and Senate Bill 1426 to stop illegal cannabis cultivation. “Illegal cannabis farming is devastating the desert communities of San Bernardino County,” said Supervisor Curt Hagman. “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.” 

Assemblymember Thurston “Smitty” Smith also explained the reasoning behind the push to eliminate illegal grows. “The people of California let their voices be heard and chose to decriminalize cannabis. I support their choice. However, what they didn’t ask for was rampant cultivation and an illegal market sucking up resources, destroying the environment, and putting our communities at risk,” said Smith. 

By May 2022, one region of San Bernardino County reported that there were no more reported cannabis grows in the area. “I’m sure there are more out there but we actually have zero grows left in the Morongo Basin that have been reported to us,” Sheriff Shannon Dicus of Morongo Basin told the Hi-Desert Star. San Bernardino County Supervisor Dawn Rowe commented on the quick call to action. “It normally takes this county a long time to make changes for our residents but this was not the case. Thank you very much on behalf of our residents for making it a safer place to live again,” Rowe said.

Statewide efforts to eliminate illegal cannabis grows have continued steadily. Back in October 2021, California Attorney Rob Bonta announced that the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) resulted in the destruction of over one million cannabis plants. “Illegal and unlicensed marijuana planting is bad for our environment, bad for our economy, and bad for the health and safety of our communities,” Bonta said in a press release.

More recently in July, agencies like the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the authorization of enforcement teams to investigate illegal cultivation during the 2022 growing season.

In October, Bonta announced that CAMP would henceforth be called the Eradication and Prevention of Illicit Cannabis (EPIC), and would continue to investigate illegal cultivation. “The illicit marketplace outweighs the legal marketplace,” Bonta said. “It’s upside down and our goal is complete eradication of the illegal market.”

The post San Bernardino’s Operation Hammer Strike Concludes Illegal Cannabis Eradication appeared first on High Times.

Toward a More Perfect Pot Union

A GROWING INTEREST 

Following the November 2022 elections, 21 U.S. states have legalized cannabis for recreational use, many of them now entrenched with a full-blown cannabis commerce. This rapidly expanding industry is populated with thousands of productive and ambitious workers, many of whom actively seek to organize or have already created union partnerships in their workplace. 

Anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 cannabis industry employees are estimated to be unionized across America. 

UFCW UNITING WITH THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY

Some California cannabis employees are part of UFCW—United Food and Commercial Workers—the largest cannabis workers union in the country, representing over 10,000 employees nationwide. 

UFCW Local 5—which presently represents over 500 weed workers across the famed “Bay Area” of Northern California—is branching out beyond representing dispensary workers, as in June 2021, when UFCW brokered a historic first-ever agreement to unionize workers at both a California-based cannabis manufacturer, CannaCraft Manufacturing, and at a cannabis lab, Sonoma Lab Works. 

We were fortunate to speak in-depth with Jim Araby, Director of Strategic Campaigns for UFCW 5. When asked about what both the individual weed worker and the collective cannabis industry gain from unionization, Araby elaborated:

“The worker benefits are very clear, such as the difference between union and non-union wages in the companies we’ve organized in the Bay Area. DIspensary workers and delivery drivers are making $3-to-$4 more per hour than their non-union equivalents.

“Also union workers are not subjected to ‘at-will’ hiring-and-firing, instead, they have to go through an actual process for ‘just cause’ so if they get fired for some reason, there’s a procedure in place, whereas non-union workers just get fired immediately under the ‘at-will’ law.

“The other big thing is; with the way the cannabis industry is now, in terms of there being a lot of large mergers and acquisitions happening, I think workers are protected in such spaces if they organize. When the High Times (retail sector), Have a Heart and Harvest merger occurred a couple years ago (2020), we were able to protect workers and keep their jobs. 

“In terms of labor-management partnerships, we can lobby with legislators in order to create a more streamlined regulatory process so that businesses can expand and thrive, and workers can get a piece of that. And we’re focused on labor management partnerships and fighting companies that don’t recognize labor’s right to organize.”

Araby discussed the significance of cannabis unionization: “Because there’s going to be tens of thousands of people who work in the industry, and if workers don’t have rights, if they don’t have a voice, it’s going to end up the same way that every non-union industry is, where big corporations are going to control the wages and benefits of workers in this industry.

“But with the unions having a foothold as this industry grows, it at least gives workers and the communities a much more sustainable industry both in terms of what the community can expect, and ultimately, what workers can expect.

“We organized CannaCraft—a cannabis manufacturer based in Santa Rosa, CA—last year and that was pretty significant because, at the time, that company was going to unilaterally issue 20 to 30 percent pay-cuts for everybody and we were able to stop that. We were also able to use a smoother approach and bargain in good faith with the company to maintain most jobs at the plant as well as being on the pathway to create Cal OSHA—the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—standards.” 

TEAMSTERS TEAMING UP WITH WEED WORKERS

Workers at Tikun Olam, a cannabis cultivation facility based in the California city of Adelanto, gave themselves an early Christmas gift on December 22, 2021 when they voted unanimously to ratify a labor agreement with Teamsters Local 1932. This act gave Tikun the distinction of being the first unionized cannabis facility in the Inland Empire, the massive metropolitan region adjacent to coastal Southern California. The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was approved after Tikun workers voted in the majority to unionize. Beyond the contract, the company and Teamsters 1932 agreed to partner to provide training opportunities through apprenticeships with Tikun and the industry as a whole. 

Regarding this development, High Times was able to reach out to not only Abraham Gallegos, Business Agent Organizer for Teamsters Local 1932, but also Kenneth P. Ocean, Cultivation Technician at Tikun Olam, who graciously provided the workers perspective for this article. 

Mr. Ocean explained the process that led to his company joining Teamsters: “I was with the company for about six months before we voted to unionize about a year ago. It won unanimously; one hundred percent of us wanted to go this way. Being unionized gives us job security to not getting fired instantly, as well as giving us an opportunity to have a career in this business.

“The management here was having struggles and miscommunicating as far as procedures, so we felt a union could help us a lot more in every direction, including obtaining safety equipment that we needed to have on hand to do our job properly. We also get benefits from the union. Plus, the products we produce are ten times better now that we’re with the union.”

Abe Gallegos of Teamsters confirmed this: 

“Tikun Olam went for months without generating revenue. It had huge turnover with constant firings and crop failures. But since unionization this team has been producing great cannabis here in Adelanto. It’s been a complete 180 degree turnaround at that cultivation facility.

“Fortunately, here in California we have a Labor Peace Agreement (LPA) law, which means any company with ten or more employees has to sign an LPA to get their business licensing in California, which prevents them from engaging in union-busting.”  

In the legal city of Chicago, in March 2022, Windy City weed workers at not one but two cannabis retail store locations—in the Logan Square and River North neighborhoods—both voted unanimously to enter into a CBA with Teamsters Local 777. This was particularly significant because it was the first two Teamster contracts in the cannabis industry in the state of Illinois. 

Concerning this unionization, High Times was fortunate to extensively interview Jim Glimco, President of Teamsters 777, and he shared: “We negotiated a fantastic agreement at Modern Cannabis (MoCa) that covers two locations. What’s exciting about this industry is that we have momentum on our side; cannabis workers throughout Illinois are hearing about what’s happening and asking how they can sign up. The level of enthusiasm I’ve seen from workers in this industry is really exciting.”

Glimco discussed the importance of unions:

“For workers, the benefits are obvious; a union gives them better wages, better benefits, greater job security, a safer workplace, a voice on the job and so much more. For employers, there are also a number of benefits; a CBA implements a very clear set of guidelines into a workplace, which creates a certain level of operational stability for management. Union shops have lower turnover, so those employers are able to expend less resources on recruiting talent. 

“For cannabis specifically, given the ugly and tragic history of its criminalization, I think it’s important to consumers that employers demonstrate a commitment to social justice. When employers allow the process of unionization to play out fairly and bargain in good faith, it demonstrates that they’re serious about this, and their customers appreciate it.”

In June 2022, drivers and fleet maintenance workers at the Los Angeles-based cannabis distribution company Nabis Cannabis voted in the majority to enter into a CBA with Teamsters Local 630. Similar to the CBA at Tikun Olam, this particular labor agreement carries extra weight because it is a sign that unionization is moving beyond merely representing retail companies.

Matt McQuaid, Communications Project Manager with the Teamsters’ Dept. of Strategic Initiatives, told us: “Teamsters represent around 500 members working in cannabis nationwide in legal states like Illinois, California and Massachusetts.”

Further, McQuaid confirmed that it was “exciting” that the Teamsters were representing Nabis, a distribution company, adding: “That was cool because unfortunately a lot of agricultural workers don’t have collective bargaining rights in some parts of the country. But in California, they do.”

THINK TANK, UNION DANK

In September 2021, Washington D.C.-based nonprofit think tank the Economic Policy Institute issued a report entitled “Ensuring the high road in cannabis” that argued for strong unionization within the rapidly expanding legal-use industry. 

The report posits a “low road” scenario, in which employees in the cannabis industry endure the same inequities that non-union workers face in similarly aligned industries like agriculture. These detrimental practices and policies plague workers with low wages, minimal benefits, such as access to adequate health insurance. As well as the aforementioned ‘at will’ restrictions that threaten a worker with unemployment at a moment’s notice, often unfairly.  

By way of contrast, the “high road” paradigm utilizes unionization to ensure that the workers are protected from arbitrary firings, and earn a fair wage.  The report suggests cannabis workers could earn anywhere from over $2,800 to nearly $8,700 more per year working under a union contract.

UFCW’s Jim Araby weighed in on the EPI report: “Obviously I agree with their findings because fundamentally unions provide certain things to workers that they don’t have when they’re not in a union. Number one, it provides a pathway to better wages and benefits. Number two, it provides a fair process to be in place for any sort of discipline and as it relates to working conditions. And third, it provides a career pathway so that workers can advance throughout the industry, gain knowledge and skills and get paid for it as they grow, such as through an apprenticeship program.” 

UNION AVOIDANCE  

Certain law firms offer union avoidance services that actually assist companies in preventing workers from unionizing utilizing various methods including using pressure and fear tactics on workers considering unionization.  While this sub-industry may be one largely clandestine among the general public it wields great influence nonetheless in the various industries infected by their undermining of worker gains and workplace rights. 

Araby is all too aware: “Union avoidance firms are a growing presence in the cannabis industry; the big union-busting law firms like Morgan Lewis and Littler Mendelson, as well as others, see [union avoidance] as a growth industry for them. 

“We know that some cannabis companies have these law firms on retainer (fees paid in advance to law firms to utilize their services when needed).  These union-busting firms as we call them will even create fake unions in order to avoid the labor peace agreement requirements. So we know this is around, and the best way to deal with that is to make sure we engage workers and we get some enforcement on the regulatory side from the state, as well as have the federal government go after law firms that knowingly break labor laws.”

Glimco agreed union avoidance firms pose a threat to unionization in the industry: “Unfortunately, their scare tactics and lies can have an effect on people. In cannabis, though, what I have seen is that there is so much solidarity and enthusiasm from these workers. For that reason, union-busting in cannabis hasn’t been as effective as it might be at some other businesses.”

Glimco suggested how workers may oppose union avoidance firm intrusion: “The best way to combat these firms is to have a united, educated group of workers, and a strong organizing committee prepared for an anti-union campaign ahead of time. The more workers know that the anti-union propaganda is coming, the less likely it is to be effective. 

“There’s also a number of union avoidance consultants who used to be employed by a union, but then got fired for wrong-doing or incompetence. When workers find that out, they tend to doubt the credibility of the union busters.”

“UNION BUSTING IS DISGUSTING” 

In April 2022 UFCW 7 held a protest that saw union members, lead by organizer Jimena Peterson, demonstrate outside of the Denver cultivation facilities of the cannabis company Green Dragon, a weed franchise based in Florida as well as Colorado. 

The protest took issue with the union-busting tactics of Green Dragon co-owner and head cultivator Ryan Milligan after Milligan and the company fired a trio of growhouse workers for supporting efforts to unionize the workforce. 

And it’s far from mere material gains that would-be unionizers want to see changed; Green Dragon staff reported a facility full of mold and insects. The company has ignored employees’ requests for adequate ventilation. 

Araby was understandably critical: “Union busting is disgusting as it goes, and as the [Green Dragon] case proves, the company was at fault, so they had to rerun that election and the workers won their union in June 2022 and they now have a contract there.

“When employers spend resources on preventing workers from organizing and having rights at work, they’re basically spending resources against the democratic process. We at UFCW think that money should be better spent on allowing the workers to decide if they want a union or not.” 

Teamsters Glimco added: “Union busting is very prevalent. Most of the employers we organized had hired outside union busters and engaged in all sorts of dirty tricks once we filed for an election. They have fired people to scare them out of organizing, they lie to their staff. There have been many unfair labor practice charges filed against companies for bad behavior, and we’ve won almost all of them.”

UNIONS CAN ALWAYS DO MORE 

Although unions are highly advantageous to workers and companies alike, they are not perfect nor immune from criticism. Complaints include excessive dues that don’t justify the benefits as well as unions functioning as little more than another division of the corporation, intended to keep potentially more excessive worker demands under control.  

Glimco addressed such concerns: “Workers don’t pay dues until after they have ratified their first contract. Take a look at any collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated by Teamsters Local 777, in cannabis or any other industry. If you do the math, you’ll see that the wages and benefits our members receive is exponentially more than the cost of dues. Dues are a tiny fraction of the economic benefits you derive from your union membership.

“This union’s direction is guided by the rank-and-file. Shop stewards, contract ratifications, the leadership at the national level, my position as President of Local 777 as well as that of the executive board; these are all decided by direct vote of our members. Furthermore, our union is structurally a bottom-up organization. Local affiliates are autonomous and have most of the power within the Teamsters.”

As referenced by Glimco, a “rank-and-file committee” refers to a center of workplace democracy created by the actual workers of a company as opposed to a traditional union hierarchy. 

UFCW’s Jim Araby fully supports the rank-and-file system: “The core value of any union is worker democracy, so the more workers want to take ownership of the union, the better. We 110 percent support that. This is important because fundamentally, you don’t win a strong contract if workers aren’t involved. If the union believes workers are nothing more than dues-paying memes and they don’t actually deserve rights in the union, then shame on the union for doing that. UFCW fundamentally believes in workplace democracy, which means workers organizing and engaging themselves in the organizing effort.

“In every single cannabis company I’ve organized there has been a rank-and-file worker committee at the bargaining table, with me bargaining that contract.” 

When asked what workers should do regarding their complaints or issues with the union, Araby strongly suggested: “When workers feel that way, they should move up the chain to get to the union leaders so that they can understand why workers are feeling that way. The union is only as strong as the worker’s participation in it. You only get out of it what you put into it. 

“But I do think if workers feel the union is not responsive to their issues, they should show up to the union hall and demand a response from the union, because they are the union, and they invest in this organization and they deserve everything they expect from it.

“We have to keep fiercely advocating for worker’s rights in the workplace, fighting for union recognition, and bargaining for strong contracts. At the local state and federal level we have to fiercely advocate for the decriminalization of cannabis as well as the legalization of cannabis, and assert the workers’ voice to be an essential part of these state and local laws.”

The Teamsters’ Glimco reiterated his reverence for rank-and-file: “Rank-and-file committees are the backbone of our entire organization, from the shop floor all the way to international level, so we are certainly supportive of them. The workers on these committees are the driving force behind winning elections and securing collective bargaining agreements. They are the ones who make the decisions about what the priorities are when it comes to collective bargaining, what issues need to be addressed in the workplace, and what actions need to be taken during an organizing or contract campaign. 

“We even have rank-and-file members on the negotiating committees for our national contracts, some of which cover tens of thousands of members. The union is not a third party where workers hire a representative to advocate on their behalf while they sit back and take a passive role. Rank-and-file Teamster members organize and bargain on behalf of themselves, and the local union is here to facilitate that process.” 

CANNABIS UNIONS ARE THE FUTURE 

Araby was ambivalent when asked about the future of cannabis unionization: “It’s yet to be seen if the industry itself believes in the union model; I would say some companies we work with value such partnerships and others who are sitting on the sidelines or even aggressively fighting us.”

Yet he still offered optimism: “If unions don’t give up when it gets hard, workers are going to get more and more organized. We have to struggle and fight because as it becomes legal across the country, you’re going to see more and more larger companies getting involved that are not necessarily friendly to unions, and we’re already seeing this. So we have to harness the strength of the existing workers we represent and have to continue to fight for workers’ space in the center of all these legalization efforts. 

“The challenge is: how do we get skilled and trained workers into that field so the companies can retain their workers?  So we’re trying to figure something out with local community colleges to see if there are any federal or state grants we can pull down to do workforce training and development training so internal candidates can grow in that job. The future of the cannabis industry, and union workers within it, is positive, but I can’t tell you it’s going to be one hundred percent going our way. But I know as long as I’m in the union, we’re fighting for this and the union is fighting for this, and we’re moving in a positive direction.”

The Teamsters’ Matt McQuaid opined: “I definitely see unionization increasing. I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm among people in this industry for unions and you’re only going to see it grow.

“It’s really important that in these companies that are making so much money, that cannabis workers feel like this can be a career. It’s important that they can stay in this industry for their entire lives, if they want to. And when you have a union, you have wage increases and benefits and all sorts of other things that make (a lifelong career) a possibility for workers. If somebody wants to work in this industry for 23 years, they should be able to do that and the union makes that possible.” 

His fellow Teamsters brother Jim Glimco was equally infused with optimism: “I think the track record of organized labor in the cannabis industry shows that we’re doing the right things to ensure that this is a successful endeavor. Ten years ago, there were hardly any unionized cannabis workers, now there are thousands. Over the long-term, I’d like to see some of the larger players in the industry negotiate national master agreements with our union. 

“As far as benefiting the whole industry, right now, a lot of people want to stay in the cannabis business, but they can’t because they need better wages and benefits. A union fixes that problem. The more unions there are in cannabis, the more we will have the right people in the right positions.”

Glimco “absolutely” expects cannabis unionization to increase. He elaborated: “Of the 21 states where recreational cannabis is currently legal, only five of them are right-to-work (which enables companies to suppress unionization efforts).”

“However, even in the right-to-work states, the Teamsters Union is strong. It was just legalized in Maryland and Missouri, two states where we have a strong labor movement. Recreational dispensaries just started opening in New York, the state with the greatest concentration of union members in the entire country. 

“Many of these states and municipalities are very smartly requiring labor peace agreements from employers as a condition of securing licenses. This means that employers have to agree that they won’t engage in union busting if the workers seek union representation. All of this portends well for cannabis unionization.”

Tikun Olam grow tech Kenneth Ocean was asked about what advice he would give to workers at a cannabis company with less than ideal conditions and management who were seeking to unionize: “I’d tell them to try to reach out to someone with your local Teamsters and find out the information you need to unionize. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. We got involved when our union steward—and cannabis cultivation lead—Doug Herring contacted the Teamsters and filed the paperwork with them and got in touch with Abe Gallegos. Teamsters 1932 made the unionization process happen pretty quick.”

When asked the same question, Abe Gallegos built upon Ken Ocean’s advice: “This industry is filled with brand new cannabis workers, the younger generation, so it’s up to them to set their expectations for a career going forward. Talking to workers in this industry, you find a lot still don’t understand their basic rights. Some of these people work at companies that don’t pay them until the company makes sales, so you have workers who aren’t being paid timely, which isn’t legal. 

“Unionization is a process that everyone is entitled to, and they can reach out to whatever union they want to talk to, and then put together their own voices to unionize. Teamsters represent the workforce, but at the end of the day, the workers are the union. They’re the ones who will push the industry to the next level. The steps to unionize are easy; contact a local union rep, then from that point we empower the worker so they can take ownership of their workplace experience.”

We let Teamsters 777 President Jim Glimco have the last word as he looked to a potentially dazzling future: “I think as legalization spreads you’re going to see unionization expand into the entire cannabis supply chain. On the west coast, we’re already winning elections at distribution companies and growers, and I think that’s an exciting indicator of what’s on the horizon. There’s no reason we can’t live in a world where one day every hand that touches the plant, from harvest to retail, belongs to a union member.”

The post Toward a More Perfect Pot Union appeared first on High Times.

Inside LA’s Secret Black Market Weed Packaging Mecca

Cash Only visited downtown LA’s wholesale cannabis packaging district—a micro-neighborhood where smoke shops and black market weed ops can get the materials to make counterfeit products such as mylar bags, flower jars, vape carts, edibles packaging, and much more.

If you want to start an underground weed brand—or bootleg an established brand like Cookies, Jeeter Juice, or Raw Garden—this is where you design and buy your wares in bulk. It’s essentially an IRL Alibaba.

The district’s accessibility has enabled a game of cat-and-mouse between licensed cannabis brands and savvy entrepreneurs looking to profit off the former’s likeness. If a legal brand adds something to its packaging, such as a QR code or holographic sticker, the bootleggers can purchase the updated product at a legal dispensary, bring it to the wholesale packaging area, and have the item copied and counterfeited that very same day.

Every time you see a counterfeit or unlicensed pot product in a New York bodega, such as Flamin’ Hot Weedos or mylar bags with stoned Rick and Morty on them, it likely came from this part of LA. Watch as we explore the area and highlight a major part of the underground weed ecosystem that is hiding in plain sight.

Courtesy of Zach Sokol
packaging
Courtesy of Zach Sokol
packaging
Courtesy of Zach Sokol
Courtesy of Zach Sokol
Courtesy of Zach Sokol

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The post Inside LA’s Secret Black Market Weed Packaging Mecca appeared first on High Times.

Los Angeles County Voters Approve Cannabis Tax

Los Angeles County voters in California approved Measure C on Tuesday, which will impose a tax structure on businesses in unincorporated areas of the county once they receive permits, Los Angeles Daily News reports.

At the time of writing, nearly 60% of the votes were in favor of Measure C as the final tallies came in.

Measure C imposes several initial tax rates: 4% on gross receipts for retail operations, 3% for manufacturing and distribution, $4 per square foot for mixed light cultivation, and $7 per square foot for indoor cultivation. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors may decrease or increase the tax rates within the maximum approved by the voters after July 1, 2026.

It’s important to note that Measure C itself does not legalize cannabis sales in the county, with additional steps before the industry can launch. The Board of Supervisors still needs to vote on that, and they’ve indicated they plan to do so in early 2023.

“All cannabis business activity will remain prohibited in the unincorporated areas of the County until the cannabis business permitting program is launched in 2023,” the bill summary reads. “This measure would make it legal for the County to tax the revenues of cannabis businesses operating in these areas. Once the permitting program launches, a cannabis business operator will need to obtain all the required permits and licenses from the appropriate state and local regulatory agencies including a cannabis business permit issued by the Los Angeles County Office of Cannabis Management.”

The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) under Los Angeles County’s Department of Consumer and Business Affairs is developing an equitable commercial cannabis program that includes permitting and resources for eligible applicants with a proposed launch in late 2023.

“The approach we’ve adopted will equitably distribute legal cannabis businesses in each supervisorial district and specifies that cannabis cultivation will only be permitted indoors—not outdoors in greenhouses,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said at a recent board meeting.

“Our board must be clear: we will not tolerate illegal cannabis operations. Growers who operate illegally undermine our efforts to create a regulated and responsible cannabis industry, and often do so at the expense of the rural communities I represent. I’m firmly committed to upholding the law and will corral all available resources to enhance enforcement and abatement efforts.”

County officials estimate a total of $10.4 million in tax revenue that would go to the Los Angeles County General Fund and a cannabis equity program that would provide equitable access for entering the cannabis industry.

For the time being though, cannabis businesses remain prohibited in unincorporated areas of the county until the permitting program launches.

Any existing or newly established cannabis businesses in the unincorporated areas must register with the Los Angeles County Treasurer and Tax Collector within 30 days of commencing operation once the permitting program has launched or within 30 days after the effective date of this ordinance.

Regulations are still being developed, but Los Angeles County staff said the initial plan will likely allow for up to 25 storefront retail cannabis businesses countywide, 25 delivery retail businesses, 10 indoor/mixed light cultivation establishments, 10 manufacturing businesses, 10 distribution facilities, and 10 testing laboratories.

A similar vote also took place nearby in San Diego County.

Voters also decided whether or not to approve Measure A in San Diego County’s unincorporated areas will pay a tax that would generate revenue going toward government services such as health care, fire safety, and parks.

The post Los Angeles County Voters Approve Cannabis Tax appeared first on High Times.

High Times and Moxie Join Forces in California

High Times Holding Corporation has entered into an agreement to acquire the California operations of Moxie, the state’s first licensed cannabis company and a leading multistate cannabis operator. The acquisition gives High Times new cannabis cultivation and production capabilities to complement our current portfolio of cannabis holdings in California, the largest legal marijuana market in the world, where we operate branded dispensaries and offer licensed cannabis products. The deal also makes High Times the most well-known brand in the Golden State with a vertically integrated cannabis operation.

“With our current platform of stores, we believe this acquisition will be synergistic in nature for the Moxie brands and provide a good home for their branded products in California,” High Times CEO Paul Henderson said about the deal. “Additionally, it will provide High Times with a cultivation and production team that has won dozens of previous Cannabis Cups, and other awards across the country. We look forward to bringing High Times classics as well as some new favorites we’ve been working on to the masses with top quality production, both in our own stores, and to other retailers in the near future. This move opens the door to a whole new world of brands from the High Times organization.”

Moxie was the first cannabis company to be licensed in California and has since expanded its cultivation and production to legal weed states including Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Utah. Utilizing pharmaceutical grade technology and strict safety standards in their cultivation facilities, Moxie provides customers with high-quality recreational and medical cannabis products from its library of hundreds of varietals.

Deal Includes Nearly 50,000 Square Feet Of Cultivation

Under the deal, High Times will take over Moxie’s California operations, which include an 11,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and 46,000 square feet of flowering canopy cultivation. The acquisition gives the company the capacity to produce up to 3,500 pounds of dried cannabis flower and more than 25,000 pounds of fresh frozen cannabis annually for High Times and our associated branded products. The deal also includes an exclusive 99-year license to use the Moxie, MX, and HighNow brands in California. In return, the Moxie organization will be granted 1,363,654 shares of Hightimes voting common stock. 

“Moxie has been a leading brand in recreational and medical cannabis since our founding, which made it non-negotiable that any acquisition agreement was done with an organization that shares our commitment to creating the highest-quality cannabis products that are trusted by consumers and regulators,” said Jordan Lams, CEO and founder of Moxie. “We believe these values are essential, especially in our current economic climate, for maintaining a strong and prosperous industry. High Times is one of the most recognizable brands in cannabis and we have the utmost confidence in their ability to continue Moxie’s upward trajectory in California. This combination creates a vertically integrated business model that allows for more control and provides High Times with the freedom to make product-driven decisions that we know will help the industry and provide recreational and medical cannabis users with the highest quality cannabis products.”

Moxie Is A Leading Cannabis Brand

Moxie, a recognized leader in the industry with over 100 industry awards including 62 Cannabis Cups, will retain its cannabis cultivation and production operations in Pennsylvania, Utah, and Missouri. And while the continuing federal prohibition on cannabis means that each state has its own regulated market, Lams said that he is confident that the Moxie brand will be able to maintain its standards of quality across the markets the company operates in.

“One of Moxie’s most important goals since our founding has been to create cannabis products that are trusted equally by consumers and regulators, which is why we carefully monitor every stage of the cultivation, production, and distribution process,” Lams said. “High Times shares this belief in the importance of taking care of the cannabis plant and we’re very confident that all Moxie products will continue to be of the highest quality and maintain the trust of local governments and consumers. Our goal now is to continue to bring the Moxie product to markets across the country and maintain these company-wide best practices, while also continuing to be aware of the unique qualities and preferences in each state.”

High Times was founded in 1974 as an underground magazine with our fingers on the pulse of marijuana culture worldwide. In recent years, the company has expanded into all things cannabis with new ventures in print, video, and multimedia, and has set the bar for industry events around the globe with our series of Cannabis Cup competitions. Over the past three years, High Times has also entered the legal cannabis industry with eight dispensaries owned and operated in California, plus licensing agreements for retailers in Michigan and Florida. High Times branded cannabis products are available is six markets.

The post High Times and Moxie Join Forces in California appeared first on High Times.

818 Brands Top-Shelf Strain Review

Gas Face OG is a highly potent hybrid strain of cannabis bred by the world-famous Seed Junky Genetics, combining the Face Mints strain with a cross of Biscotti and Sherbet. Sticky and tight, light green nugs show a classic OG flower structure, covered with tightly clustered shining trichomes with flecks of purple showing through. The aroma of Gas Face OG is bright and gassy with earthy and woodsy undertones, heavily influenced by the dominant terpenes limonene, linalool and caryophyllene. When burned, the varietal produces thick, strong but tasty smoke that is pleasing to the palate.

Gas Face OG’s potency is high, with analysis of a recent indoor crop from 818 Brands in California showing total cannabinoids of 29.38%, with THC coming in at 28.5%, plus a dash of the minor cannabinoid CBGA. Together, the terpenes and cannabinoids produce a relaxing yet uplifting effect that inspires reflection, creativity and improved mental focus. Reported medical effects include appetite stimulation and help reducing stress, anxiety and depression, offering relief to many patients with insomnia, anorexia or mild mental health conditions. Flowering time for the Gas Face OG strain is about eight to nine weeks when grown indoors.

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