Week in Review: Medical Marijuana Use Doubles; Rick Ross Announces New Cannabis Partnership

New Study Confirms Medical Marijuana Use Has Doubled in the US

A new study reveals that medical cannabis use has more than doubled in the last decade and is largely driven by state-level legalization, reports Marijuana Moment.

In 2013, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health added a medical marijuana question, specifically asking whether any cannabis use within the past 12 months was recommended by a doctor. The federally funded survey found that during the first year, 1.2% of respondents answered affirmatively and that figure rose to 2.5% by 2020.

The study’s authors, Greg Rhee, PhD and Robert Rosenheck, MD determined that over the course of a seven-year period, the number of Americans using medical marijuana increased at an average annual rate of 12.9%.

“This study documents a continued nationwide increase in use of cannabis for diverse medical purposes between 2013 and 2020,” they write in the paper, published online on March 12 as a pre-proof for the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“Living in a state that legalized medical cannabis remained significantly associated with greater odds of medical cannabis use.”

PHOTO Marcus Ingram/GI

Rick Ross Partners With High Tolerance for New “Collins Ave” Strain

Rick Ross is paying homage to his Miami roots with the announcement of his new partnership with cannabis company, High Tolerance, to launch a new cannabis strain, Collins Ave, named after the popular South Beach thoroughfare, reports TMZ.

“High Tolerance is the best flower for all the ones who like to blow that good gas,” 47-year-old Ross said. “This is the best flower in the world… this is why I decided to team up with High Tolerance. They have the best flower on the streets. Shout out to Manny, the biggest.”

For his part, Manny, High Tolerance’s co-founder told TMZ that Ross is “a true cannabis connoisseur.”

The partnership sees Ross join an impressive line-up of musicians and celebrities who have become High Tolerance ambassadors, including A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, ‘BMF’ star Lil Meech, Ghostface Killah and the late Drakeo the Ruler.

Those in the know might be somewhat perplexed by the hip hop star’s partnership with High Tolerance surprising, given his 2020 collaboration with fellow musician/entrepreneur Berner; Collins Ave was one of the three strains Ross launched with the Californian cannabis company, along with Pink Rozay, a reference to his involvement in Belaire Rosé and Lemon Pepper, reportedly his favorite flavor of Wingstop chicken wings.

The highly-anticipated release of Collins Ave is scheduled for June 1.

PHOTO Konrad

$20 Million in Funding Helps California’s Growers

In an effort to help limit the number of unlicensed cannabis grows and help cultivators restore and conserve their properties, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has earmarked over $20 million in grant funding opportunities as part of its Cannabis Restoration Grant Program (CRGP).  

The funding will be distributed to farmers through “non-profits, tribes, government agencies and other organizations that manage environmental projects for landowners,” the Record Spotlight reports and is earmarked for costs associated with things like permitting requirements, upgrading road crossings and restoration of the environment caused by illicit grows. 

The organization announced the program in January, stating illicit cannabis grow practices, such as wildlife poaching, unlawful water diversions for irrigation, conversion of lands, banned pesticide use and more, have negatively impacted California’s environment and fish and wildlife.

According to Amelia Wright, CDFW Cannabis Program Director, the CDFW wants to help limit the number of unlicensed grows because, in a regulated market, cultivators typically work with state regulators to minimize environmental impacts.

“We’re excited about our new cannabis grant opportunities and look forward to funding a variety of projects that restore and protect California’s diverse natural resources,” Wright says.

The post Week in Review: Medical Marijuana Use Doubles; Rick Ross Announces New Cannabis Partnership appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Brownie Mary and Her Contributions to Medical Cannabis 

If you’ve ever had a pot brownie, then you have Brownie Mary to thank for that. An elderly woman known for her exceptional baking skills, is not uncommon for many grandmas. Except Mary wasn’t baking treats for her grandkids, she was crafting cannabis edibles for a community of disenfranchised people that she cared for as if they were her own children.  

Often referred to as the Florence Nightingale of HIV/AIDS, and the creator of the weed brownie, Mary was famous for baking delicious, cannabis-infused treats for gay men and other people who were suffering from wasting syndrome, a condition categorized by diminished appetite and significant weight loss. It’s common in people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other illnesses.  

In addition to her humanitarian work, for which she was arrested 3 times, Brownie Mary was also the reason California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis, as she had a big part in the passage of Proposition 215 back in 1996.  

Bottom line, Mary was an amazing, powerhouse of woman. And she played such a huge role in the cannabis industry as we know it today, that everyone who smokes weed should know her name and her story. Let’s take a closer look at the incredible life of Brownie Mary.  

Who is Brownie Mary? 

Mary Jane Rathbun (yes, Mary Jane is her birth name given to her by her conservative Irish Catholic mother) was born in on December 22, 1922, in Chicago, Illinois. Soon after, her family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Mary attended a strict catholic school. One of her first acts of rebellion was at 13, when she hit a nun who tried to cane her.  

She moved on her own when she was a teenager and took to waitressing to support herself (keep in mind, this was during a time when it was especially hard for a young, unmarried woman to do such a thing). She continued to work as a waitress for most of her adult life. From a young age, she was drawn to activism and got involved in many important causes, from campaigning for miners’ rights to form unions in Wisconsin, to promoting women’s healthcare and abortion rights in Minneapolis.  

She moved to San Francisco, California, during World War II. Shortly after getting there, she married a man she met at a USO dance and had a daughter named Peggy, who was born in 1955. They divorced shortly after and Mary moved with her daughter to Reno, Nevada. In the early 1970s, Peggy was killed by a drunk driver, and Mary moved back to San Francisco.  

Cannabis activism 

Shortly after moving back to San Francisco, Mary met Dennis Peron at Café Flore in the Castro district, in a change encounter that would change the trajectory of her activism work forever. Peron was a well-known cannabis and LGBTQ activist. He was a prominent figure in California politics, and was an adamant supporter of medical cannabis use. He watched it how it provided relief to his partner, who eventually died from AIDS in 1990. He wanted other people to be able to benefit from weed as well.  

Mary started baking her brownies, and Peron was selling them at his Big Top pot supermarket on Castro Street – and thus Brownie Mary was born. The majority of Mary’s customers were gay men, especially after HIV/AIDS began to spread more rampantly in the 1980s. Noticing this, Mary started providing her brownies to sick people, whom she referred to as her “kids”, totally free of charge. Her $650 monthly social security check, along with donations from the community, helped her purchase baking supplies.  

“I know from smoking pot for over 30 years that this is a medicine that works,” Brownie Mary stated. “It works for the wasting syndrome; these kids have no appetite; but when they eat a brownie, they get out of bed and make themselves some food. And for chemotherapy, they eat half a brownie before a session, and when they get out, they eat the other half. It eases the pain. That’s what I’m here to do.” 

Around 1984, Brownie Mary started volunteering every week in the AIDS ward (Ward 86) at San Francisco General Hospital. She often helped by wheeling patients to and from the radiology department and taking their specimens to the lab. In 1986, she was named “Volunteer of the Year” by the hospital ward. TV reporter and author, Carol Pogash, also profiled Mary her 1992 book titled: As Real as it Gets: The Life of a Hospital at the Center of the AIDS Epidemic.  

Multiple arrests  

By the early 1980s, Mary was baking about 600 brownies per day. She advertised them in on local bulletin boards around San Francisco, calling them her “original recipe brownies” that were “magically delicious”. Eventually, an undercover officer caught on to what she was doing and a raid was conducted on her home on January 14, 1981. 

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Police found over 18 pounds of cannabis flower, 650 brownies, and some other drugs and paraphernalia. She was 57-years-old at the time of this arrest, and this is the time that the media started referring to her openly as Brownie Mary. In this case, she ended up pleading guilty to nine counts of possession and served three years’ probation as well as 500 hours of community service.  

A little over a year later, on December 7, 1982, Mary was walking down Market Street to deliver a batch of brownies to a friend who had cancer, when she happened to run into one of the officers involved in her arrest.  He searched her bag and found about four dozen brownies. She was arrested and charged with probation violation and multiple counts of possession, but the district attorney dropped the charges against her.  

Fast forward a decade to July 19, 1992, and that’s when Brownie Mary was arrested for her third time. She was held up during the middle of the baking process, while pouring cannabis into brownie batter at the home of a local grower. She was charged with felony possession again, 2.5 pounds this time, and released on bail. The district attorney tried to prosecute her, but she plead not guilty and was eventually acquitted of these charges too.  

Her legal team argued the defense of “medical necessity”, claiming that Mary was “able to testify that her deliveries were made to assist others in need, not to advance individual greed, that the nobility of her actions outweighed the reprehensibility of her offense according to the law.” 

In one of her most famous moments at a San Francisco rally in 1992, Rathbun reportedly cried out: “If the narcs think I’m gonna stop baking brownies for my kids with AIDS, they can go f*** themselves in Macy’s window”. This about a month after her third arrest, and she continued to bake about 600 brownies every day throughout the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis.  

Prop 215  

In the early 90s, Mary helped her friend Dennis Peron open the first medical cannabis dispensary in the United States, known as the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club. The Buyers Club operated from 1992 to 1998 and had over 8,000 members at one point. During that time, Peron and a group of cannabis activists drafted Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act.  

Prop 215 passed in 1996 with more than 55 percent of the vote, making California the first state to permit the medicinal use of cannabis. Less than two years later, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Nevada passed their own medical cannabis initiatives. Today, 37 states have medical cannabis, and 21 of those have passed recreational use laws as well.  

“It wasn’t the hippies per se, it wasn’t the standard establishment marijuana movement players, but it was the gay people who legalized pot in California because of the AIDS epidemic,” says John Entwistle, Peron’s husband and co-author of Proposition 215. “That’s been forgotten to some extent.” And Brownie Mary was right there at the heart of it all, lovingly helping people in her community while at the same time, bringing media attention to the cause.  

Brownie Mary’s legacy 

The work Mary Jane Rathbun did for AIDS patients is definitely under looked and under appreciated these days. During a time when there was no relief from the symptoms they experienced…she was their guardian angel. 

After the passage of Prop 215, Mary’s health began to decline, and she suffered from a few different health conditions including osteoarthritis, COPD, and colon cancer. As expected, she self-medicated with cannabis to ease her pain. In 1999, at the age of 76, Mary passed away from a heart attack (December 22, 1922 – April 10, 1999). The following week, 300 people gathered in a candlelight vigil in her name at Castros on Market Street. 

“We loved to ask her, ‘What’s the recipe?’ and she always made Betty Crocker jokes,” Entwistle remembered. “She once explained it to me: When you’re buying boxes of brownies, look at how much oil the recipe calls for, and go for the one that uses the most oil. But the mystery—the recipe for her brownies—goes to her grave.” 

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Bloom Where You’re Planted

You could tell me it’s November (it’s actually March), and I’d probably believe you. This is to say that I only just realized that, shit! It’s time to pop seeds once again. I’ve been unsure of doing it, knowing the time commitment that growing requires may not be best combined with the relentless demands of newborn life. 

I’ve been on a years-long cannabis-growing journey, otherwise. After many years of merely consuming cannabis, happy to enjoy the fruits of other dedicated peoples’ labor, I decided a while ago that how involved I was in cannabis in my professional life didn’t quite match up with my dedication on a personal level. Sure, I was smoking a lot, which is obviously a commitment in its own right. But could I truly understand how this plant works and manifests without seeing it bloom from seed to smoke? To truly get connected, I knew I had to start growing myself.

In adulthood, I’ve really developed my love for plants, the outdoors, animals, and anything related to nature. While I thrive being surrounded by plants, keeping them alive has been a bit of a struggle for me. Succulents, monsteras, even garden tomatoes—you name it, I’ve killed it. So I was hesitant to wade into my absolute favorite plant on Earth out of sheer respect. Wasting a seed—especially one with “cool” genetics—seemed kind of sacrilege to me. But you never know if you don’t try, I reasoned, and I figured my mild terror and deep reverence for the cannabis plant would keep me in line.

It did. I’ve become a bit of a plant mommy, in addition to now becoming a human mommy, a process that was fraught with similar anxieties and overthinking. I’ll never claim I’m growing any kind of fire, far from it, but I grow purely outdoors (thanks, Southern California!), and the several harvests I’ve now reaped have been totally smokable. 

As expected, growing cannabis has deepened my relationship with the plant exponentially: I understand its cycles, how each variable—weather, water, nutrients, pest control, to name just a few—contributes to the quality of the final product (or lack thereof), the rainbow spectrum of genetics and how differently they all manifest, and also, frankly, how easily it grows without any intervention at all (hence the nickname “weed”). It’s informed my reporting, my evaluation of products in the marketplace, and it’s been a mental health balm in times when getting my hands dirty was just what my body and soul needed most. It also gave me immense respect for those who do this on any kind of commercial scale for money. The plant will grow just fine on its own, but it won’t shine without the special touch of expert know-how.

I also view growing as an act of political resistance—yes, even in the age of legalization. It’s still federally illegal to grow, even in states that allow homegrow. In April 2022, I was called to be a witness in a federal cannabis case as an expert on the cannabis plant, something I was comfortable doing thanks to my experiences reporting and growing, and I admitted on the stand as part of my proving my bonafides that I had grown cannabis before.

“You’re aware that a lot of the things you just listed as part of your qualifications, growing weed, for example, is illegal?” the prosecutor asked me while I was on the stand.

“Yes,” I replied.

“What quantity did you grow it in?” she asked.

“Under six plants, per California regulations,” I said.

“And do you also know that, regardless of your personal feelings about them, you still have to follow the federal marijuana laws in this country?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied, while the right side of my face twitched a little bit.

I know enough to know that nobody’s prosecuting federal cannabis cases for homegrowers anymore, so I’d be safe. But I was definitely sweating bullets nonetheless. Federal court will do that to you. Still, it felt like an important moment of defiance. Especially considering many states with adult-use legal cannabis sales and consumption have outlawed homegrow entirely. That’s not just a force of the government, but something lobbied for and enacted specifically by cannabis industry lobbyists and so-called “advocacy” groups, like the New York Medical Cannabis Industry organization and others across the nation, who often represent the interests of monied cannabis corporations.

As for me this year, I’ve decided I’m going to pop some seeds after all and line up a few clones, just in case the aforementioned goes sideways. I’ll do the best I can (my baby is due late May) and allow myself room for distraction while making sure to tag in my husband to help hand water. If my grow fails and I become engulfed by my baby, which is entirely possible, I’ll know it’s just the way things are meant to be for this season and allow myself some grace. 

But mostly, I have visions of myself with a baby strapped to my chest, sitting on the earth and slowly trimming leaves under the San Diego sun. It’s an idyllic vision to look forward to (if potentially unrealistic), and it excites me for what’s to come. I’m hoping that in any free moments I can steal, these growing female plants will remind me of the transformation that took place in my own womb and that they’ll offer me a mental salve in the difficult days of early motherhood. That it’s a female plant, a mother plant, whose bloom is healing and beneficial is not lost on me at all. I feel like I have to start the growing process, at least, seeing as I’m about to pop new life myself.

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Introducing Baked Bags’ Coned; The Ice Cream Inspired Edibles

Delta-8 THC is a hot topic in the cannabis industry right now, and for a good reason. Delta-8 is a naturally occurring minor cannabinoid that has recently gained popularity for its unique psychoactive effects that are milder than Delta-9 THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. Delta-8 is federally legal in 35 states, making it more accessible than Delta-9 THC, which is only legal in some states. Baked Bags, based in Los Angeles, is California’s leading Delta-8 edible brand, and they have taken the market by storm with their innovative and delicious Delta-8 Ice Cream Cones. Make sure to check them out and use our code HIGHTIMES50 for BOGO 50% off plus free shipping!

Who says edibles have to be boring? Baked Bags’ Coned are the ice cream inspired edibles that are packed with rich chocolate infused with Delta-8 THC. They are the little chocolate-filled ends of a sundae cone. You know. The best part. And they come in 6 delicious flavors.

Courtesy Baked Bags

Baked Bags is on a mission to redefine edibles by offering a unique and tasty experience that you won’t find anywhere else. Their Delta-8 Ice Cream Cones are a crowd favorite, and it’s not hard to see why. Coned comes in a variety of delicious flavors, including Cookie & Cream, Milk Chocolate, Strawberry Shortcake, Birthday Cake, Mint Chip, and Milk & Cookies. Each cone is packed with 25mg or 100mg of Delta-8 THC, so you can experience the milder psychoactive effects without getting too high.

For those who can’t decide on just one flavor or want to share with friends, Baked Bags offers a Variety Pack of Milk Chocolate, Birthday Cake, Strawberry Shortcake, and Milk & Cookies. It’s perfect for trying out different flavors and finding your favorite. The Variety Pack is great for parties or gatherings, and it’s a surefire way to impress your friends.

Courtesy Baked Bags

If you’re an advanced cannabis connoisseur looking for a stronger experience, Baked Bags has got you covered with their Extra Strength Cones. The Extra Strength Cones are packed with 100mg of Delta-8 THC, making them 4x as potent as the regular cones. The Extra Strength Cones come in flavors like Strawberry Shortcake and Cookies & Cream, so you can still enjoy the delicious taste while experiencing a more potent psychoactive effect.

Baked Bags takes pride in what they do, and they work hard to bring you the best Delta-8 THC edibles on the market. They use high-quality ingredients to create their exotic and tasty treats, and they always provide full transparency to their customers with visible COAs on their site. Baked Bags is committed to helping people enhance their lives physically, creatively, and emotionally through the responsible use of Delta-8 THC.

Baked Bags is a company that is always looking to innovate and offer its customers new and exciting experiences. They have taken the Delta-8 market by storm, and they show no signs of slowing down. They are constantly working on new flavors and products to keep their customers coming back for more. All of their products are made with high-quality ingredients and tested for potency and purity to ensure that you get the best experience possible.

Their unique and tasty Delta-8 Ice Cream Cones have become a fan favorite, and for a good reason. Baked Bags is redefining edibles by offering an experience that is both delicious and unique, and they’re doing it in a way that is accessible to more people than ever before.

Their infused ice cream cone tips provide a sweet and effective treat that has set Baked Bags apart in the industry. This unique form factor not only adds nostalgia but also allows users to benefit from the effects of cannabis. It has been well received by consumers and propelled the brand’s popularity.

Courtesy Baked Bags

If you’re looking to try Delta-8 THC for the first time or you’re already a fan, Baked Bags is the brand you should try. Their Delta-8 Ice Cream Cones are delicious, and they offer a unique and milder psychoactive experience that you won’t find anywhere else. Baked Bags is on a mission to help people enhance their lives physically, creatively, and emotionally through the responsible use of Delta-8 THC, and they’re doing it with transparency and high-quality ingredients. Try Baked Bags today and see for yourself why they’re California’s leading Delta-8 edible brand. Coned by Baked Bags is an experience you won’t forget! Exclusive BOGO 50% off + Free Shipping for High Times readers! Use code HIGHTIMES50.

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The Rise of the First Smoke of the Day Podcast

The popular weed podcast First Smoke of the Day recently put on a “Family Reunion” in Los Angeles, inviting supporters of the show and everyone who has appeared on it. Hundreds gathered, coming from all over California and all over the country, giving tangible evidence to the passionate community that has been built around the podcast.

The podcast is the work of its two hosts, Cody and Lance. When First Smoke of the Day first appeared in 2021 it was audio-only. That’s because the topic had to do with the real underground culture of growing and selling weed. The first guests were well-known on the underground scene but would never show their face.

From the start it was clear that the podcast was all about providing a platform for those in the cannabis industry to tell their stories.

Once the podcast turned the cameras on and began to feature big players in the weed game in California and beyond, its viewership skyrocketed. 2022 proved to be a year of massive growth for the pair. The show has so far featured interviews with high-profile brand owners including brands like Doja Exclusive, Insane, Fidel’s, Fiore, Ball Family Farms, Viola, B Eazy Buds, Cookies, the Backpack Boyz, Jungle Boys, Runtz, Connected, Sherbinskis, Alien Labs, Squintz, Blueprint, and many others. The show provides a who’s-who of California weed, plus national and international guests. 

With every new episode, there is hype and excitement online. Inside the weed industry, everyone wants to get their spot on First Smoke of the Day. To be a guest confers instant clout.

The show features Cody and Lance, two weed insiders, chopping it up with industry legends. Episodes usually run well over an hour and the unscripted conversation is allowed to flow without constraints. The result is a sense of spending time chatting and hearing stories from big players like Berner, Kenji Fujishima, Ryan Bartholomew, Ray Bama, and Juan Quesada. 

The Origins of First Smoke of the Day 

What would appear to be the podcast’s almost instant success was in fact a long process that began years earlier, when Cody and Lance became friends in their home state of Florida. Cody approached Lance when he saw that Lance had tried to enter the legal weed market in Colorado, but returned to Florida when he found only corruption and onerous expenses in the recreational market.

“I was just compelled by his drive and his passion, his calling,” Cody said of Lance. “That just spoke to me. And I love good weed. And I could see he had played with a lot, in his mind, he stopped believing in the dream at the time, I could see that. But I was like, I’m a dreamer. I just can’t help it,” Cody said. 

Around 2014 the two would regularly meet in the mornings and have conversations while enjoying Lance’s freshly-cured weed. 

“The whole time having that first smoke of the day, this goes back to even before we moved to LA, we’d have these five to six hour conversations that would lead into manifesting business and dreams. What are you trying to do? Talking through these motions that then become reality 10 years later, 15 years later,” Cody said. 

The two decided first to launch a clothing and lifestyle brand in Florida, which made them feel like a big fish in a small pond. They felt like they wanted to go somewhere where they were “celebrated, not just tolerated.” The lifestyle they were targeting with their brand made more sense in California. So, they moved. 

Lance was inspired by Cody’s vision and was ready to follow his lead. 

“There are two things we knew,” Lance said. “I knew for a fact, he’s a great businessman, and his branding and marketing is 100% on point. I knew I grew great weed. So, together we’re a good team,” Lance said. 

The two came to California around 2015 during the Prop 215 era of medicinal marijuana and started Blackleaf as a weed and clothing brand. They went all in with marketing and pushing their brand, making connections all throughout the industry. 

“The whole reason that First Smoke of the Day is popping right now is because we hit the sessions hard and started popping up on the scene and meeting everybody. Literally meeting everybody,” Cody said. 

They entered their weed into competitions like the Cannabis Cup, and got a great reception. 

“It turned out to be a real thing. We felt like we were really chasing legalization and we’re fucking putting out our own shit. He’s growing it, we worked with a few breeders, I don’t want to say to create a strain but put a few strains on the map,” Cody said. They had success with strains like Dirty Sprite and Fruity Pebbles. 

“We were just letting shit happen organically. I didn’t really plan for any of it,” Cody said. 

But with the coming of recreational legalization in 2018, Blackleaf began to struggle. Their grow operation was broken into more than once, at one point putting the two in a very dangerous situation. The competition in the industry was fierce. Cody thought about taking another direction in business, and handed Blackleaf off to Lance to maintain. 

“Our dream took a hit,” Lance said. “The dream that we had together.”

“You got to work through those hard times,” Cody said. “But we never crossed each other. We never betrayed each other, never fucked with each other. None of that,” he said. 

They kept their connection even through this particularly rocky period. 

“That’s what means a lot to me about our friendship is that like, we’ve been through a lot of shit. We’ve been through a lot of tests. And neither of us ever buckled. So, that’s really rare, in my opinion,” Cody said. 

It was 2018 when a “first draft” of a podcast between the two had a false start. They recorded a few episodes that they weren’t happy with, and then shelved it. 

But in 2020, Coronavirus changed things. Cody found himself stuck at home consuming all the online streaming content he could find. He realized there wasn’t enough content for the weed community. He started to hatch an idea for a podcast that would become First Smoke of the Day

“We came back around, and we went through COVID. And I know that changed a lot of things. And then I saw the need for media and the need for content,” Cody said. 

He became determined on the idea. 

“This is like my baby right here. This idea is probably one of the first times where I’m like, now, let me figure it out. Let me have the idea. Let me come off and let me create. Let’s see what I can do,” Cody said. 

He saw that there was an opportunity in the media landscape. 

“What there was out there for us is very little. I love it, though. Marijuana Mania. Shout out to Berner, I love that shit. Shout out to Strain Hunters. I love that. All those shows highly influenced me,” Cody said. 

He wanted it to be for insiders but also for a wide audience. 

“I didn’t want to make it a grow show. I didn’t want to make it a fucking hustle show. And I wanted to make it for the smokers. If you are on any level, if you smoke weed, you could fuck with our show, you’ll like it,” Cody said. 

He brought Lance back in to the picture. Between the two of them, they thought they could recreate the intense conversations they used to have as far back as Florida over the first smoke of the day, but with people that are actually in the weed scene. 

The two had a strong idea of creating community and connections through the podcast. 

“I told him, we have to just go into people’s stories, everyone loves a story. So, focus on the story. That’s the thing, everybody loves a story because you can relate, you can connect, you have that compatibility that you’re looking for. At the end of the day, people just want to connect, and they can only connect through a community of like-minded people,” Cody said. 

Once they created a platform for people in weed to tell their story, it seemed that everyone wanted their chance to appear on the show. After years of hustling in the industry, Cody and Lance had built up a reputation that was trustworthy. 

“They really fuck with us now. We put our stamp on shit. We take that shit serious. We can’t play games. My face card is 100 in the streets. It’s gold. So, I don’t waver on that shit for nothing. That means a lot to me. It’s been a lot of years now,” Cody said. 

For Lance, it’s an opportunity to give the spotlight to industry veterans. 

“We just want to shine a light on their journey and let people hear it because people don’t know what a lot of these guys or girls have been through to get where they are here. ‘Oh, he just started a weed brand.’ No, it’s like, 15 or 20 years or 30 years in the making, the guy had life in prison, wherever their journey started, it’s relatable to somebody,” Lance said. 

Cody says that a bond is formed when someone tells their story through conversation. 

“When people sit down in that seat and tell me their whole life story, it means a lot. You just gained a relationship with them because who do you know that meets for the first time that they tell each other their life story?” Cody said. 

“You feel it. You build a deep relationship and a deep respect. This comes with great responsibility, what we’re dealing with. People really rely on us to keep it real and remain that way. And we’re blessed too because, we get to keep good relationships because people trusted us. We trust them and it’s not to be broken,” Cody said. 

Cody realized that with the podcast, he could approach media content his own way, with a vision that he shared with Lance. Beyond that, he lets the episodes happen organically. 

“We don’t ever know. At eighty five episodes, I’m proud to say we didn’t premeditate any of those. It happens week by week, month by month, we just do the work. It’s been all organic. There’s no way you could really redo it this way or plan it this way,” Cody said. 

Finally by 2021 the two were back together, producing content and going fully forward in a fresh direction, yet harkening back to ideas that they percolated almost ten years prior. 

For the two, it was a moment of revelation. 

“We can do it our way,” Cody said. “I don’t have to just be another brand and try to chase the shops and do all that, because I was exhausted with that. And I was like, let me let me do this immediately, I will do content and hopefully it’ll work out because people fuck with it, then it could be big.” 

The Future of First Smoke of the Day 

Cody says that what First Smoke of the Day is and represents is still in its infancy. He and Lance plan to continue to build it up, broadening their scope, doing more international content, staging events, and building an online digital platform. 

“I know within a couple of years, there won’t be one place in this globe we couldn’t go to and get love from people who are doing this shit,” Cody said. “It just shows you how many people around the world are living this life too. And they needed a home. So, we are street family,” he said. 

Cody says he can’t help but feel that he’s just getting started. He’s pumped about the growth and success of the show over the past two years. 

“With all the shit I’ve been facing through this past year, I’m like, man, the growth is crazy and I feel unstoppable at this point. I’m at the point where I feel like, I got nothing to lose. I’m all in, this is it. I’m all in with this vision. The shit got to pop,” he said. 

“We got the wheels rolling, now it’s like to really start being able to hit the gas,” Cody said. 

While they’ve been applauded by industry greats, they are by no means done with what they started. They have much further to go, Cody says. 

“If people really knew like the struggle, this is by no means a success story right now, we’re still in the trenches, we’re digging, we’re marching,” Cody said.

At January’s Family Reunion event, Cody recieved tons of congratulations. He wasn’t ready to rest on his laurels. 

“I told everybody coming up to me saying congratulations, I told them, it’s a start. It’s a start. It’s a start. That’s where we’re at,” Cody said. 

Even the Family Reunion event is one that the guys see becoming a regular event. They see it growing beyond what was surely a successful night. 

“I think that by next year it will be really something special, it’d be something no one wants to miss if you are in this game. If you’re in the weed world, you’ll want to be there,” Cody said. 

Cody wants to expand the topics of the show to include other related content, bringing guests from the world of business or entertainment or sports. 

To that end, the crew is ramping up to post not one but three episodes a week, with a plan to eventually upload seven days a week. 

“That’s what will be a network. That consistency is just going to compound. Content is crazy,” Cody said. 

The community being built around the podcast is what Cody and Lance are most passionate about. By gathering people of a like mind, opportunities are created that, the guys say, could have broad impact. 

“There’ll be brands built, there’ll be collaborations done, there’ll be people partnering, there’ll be people funding other people’s stuff, there’s going to be real friendships and bonds made out of this community,” Cody said. “It’s going to shape the culture of cannabis, ultimately.” 

Financially, it’s a rough business. “But,” Cody says, “as long as we can create freely in the process, we’re winning. We won. We are paid. That’s the money.”

Cody has no doubts about the strength and resilience of the weed community that he’s a part of, that the show puts the spotlight on. 

”This community is strong. I don’t think people realize how strong this community is. We’re all freedom fighters. We’ve all been through a lot of shit. Even if you just smoke weed you’ve been through a lot. When we come together, we’re strong enough not to be fucked with, we’re resourceful. We’ve got real motion out here, real power, for real and it’s high up, it’s much higher up than you think,” Cody said.

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U.S. Conservative Group Calls for Prince Harry to be Deported Over Past Drug Use

Prince Harry’s visa should be denied and he should be deported from the U.S., a conservative group is demanding.

When Prince Harry detailed his history with pot and other drugs in his autobiography, he made heads roll, especially in conservative circles on both sides of the Atlantic. The Heritage Foundation—a conservative think tank in operation for over 50 years—called for the deportation of Prince Harry over his admissions to past drug use including pot and cocaine. 

The Duke of Sussex, 38, is currently living in Los Angeles with his wife Meghan Markle and son, Archie. But Harry is living on a visa, and has no plans of seeking permanent U.S. residency or U.S. citizenship, despite being eligible. The couple quit the Royal Family and moved to California in January 2020, where they continued to be a focal point for tabloids and aggressive paparazzi.

A representative from The Heritage Foundation said the organization is in arms with the U.S. State Department, as they are refusing to release any details about Prince Harry’s visa application, The Mercury News reports

The power couple is often the target of conservative media, which often sides with the Royal Family instead of Prince Harry. The Heritage Foundation entered the arena by challenging his visa status.

“This request is in the public interest in light of the potential revocation of Prince Harry’s visa for illicit substance use and further questions regarding the Prince’s drug use and whether he was properly vetted before entering the United States,” Mike Howell, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, told the Daily Mail.

In Prince Harry’s controversial autobiography Spare, which was published this past January, he revealed that he first snorted coke at age 17 and again on a few other occasions. He also toked up after his first date with Meghan Markle. “I started doing it recreationally and then started to realize how good it was for me,” Harry said. “I would say it is one of the fundamental parts of my life that changed me and helped me deal with the traumas and the pains of the past.”

Prince Harry also detailed his adventures with shrooms, talking to the toilet and having strange visions. High Times has been following reports of his pot use since at least 2017. (Tyler Dooley, Meghan’s nephew and the son of Meghan’s half-brother Thomas Markle Jr., got into the cannabis industry back in 2015 and released the Markle Sparkle strain.)

Is Prince Harry’s Visa Truly at Risk?

But according to law, visa records are considered confidential. “Visa records are confidential under Section 222(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA); therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases,” a U.S. State Department spokesman said. 

Legal experts aren’t sure if Harry’s past drug use actually could threaten his visa status, allowing him to stay in the United States to live and work. “An admission of drug use is usually grounds for inadmissibility,” former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told Page Six. “That means Prince Harry’s visa should have been denied or revoked because he admitted to using cocaine, mushrooms and other drugs.”

New Jersey-based attorney James Leonard, disagreed with Rahmani and said that Prince Harry’s visa status is not at risk.

“Absent any criminal charge related to drugs or alcohol or any finding by a judicial authority that Prince Harry is a habitual drug user, which he clearly is not, I don’t see any issue with the disclosures in his memoir regarding recreational experimentation with drugs,” Leonard said.

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Inflated THC Levels, Price Gouging Would Be Banned Under California Bill

Enormous pressure to maximize THC levels falls upon cultivators, manufacturers, and labs. And when THC levels are inflated, it creates unrealistic expectations for higher numbers, and it erodes trust in the integrity of the industry. 

One California lawmaker has a solution. On March 15, Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) introduced Assembly Bill 1610, which he calls the “weed-out-the-weed” bill to create greater transparency in cannabis testing and help eliminate fraud in the legal markets. 

SC Labs is sponsoring AB 1610 because it would improve transparency in the market by allowing or requiring in-person lab audits, randomized product shelf testing to ensure cannabis labels are accurate, and blind proficiency testing of labs. 

“SC Labs is supporting this bill because without greater engagement from the state, there is no way to hold bad actors accountable,” says SL Labs Chief Compliance Officer Josh Wurzer. “Under the current system, bad actor labs and brands profit over companies that are working hard to follow the rules.”

Wurzer continues, “We want the legalized market to thrive, as it’s come under a lot of pressure recently from reduced prices and the persistence of illicit markets. Greater trust and transparency in legalized products will boost consumer confidence, ensure public safety, and strengthen the legal markets.”

The proposed reforms in the bill are common sense measures, Wurzer says, that will strengthen existing laws and give regulators the tools they need to stamp out fraud. That includes: 

  • Requiring blind proficiency testing so that labs are tested on their accuracy within their normal course of business
  • Requiring all past recalls to be publicly shared online for consumers to access easily
  • Requiring in-person annual audits of laboratories (many of the labs operating in California have been operating on provisional licenses and have yet to be inspected in person. This is something other states regularly do to ensure accountability)
  • Allowing for the randomized testing of products available for retail sale to identify inconsistencies in testing

Wholesale prices for distillate are determined by THC content, and consumers favor flower for the same reasons. Companies lab shop to get the highest THC levels possible. What’s really happening is consumers are getting gouged for prices when they think they’re getting a higher amount of THC than what is really in their product. 

Just how rampant is it? A few labs that were fed up with rampant potency inflation and recently set out to determine how bad the issue was. Their sampling of over 150 randomly chosen flower products by several lab leaders found that 87% of products illegally overstated their THC content, and several also contained harmful levels of pesticides. Furthermore, over half of the samples were over 20% deviant of their labeled THC values, which is over twice the legal permitted variance.

California does allow some room for error. The state’s threshold is +/- 10% for THC, but companies often illegally surpass that margin of error. “Any one cannabinoid, total THC, and/or total CBD claimed to be present on a label shall not be considered inaccurate if the difference in percentage on the certificate of analysis is plus or minus 10.0%” the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) states.

At least five class action lawsuits have been filed in recent months by consumers claiming damages for paying for artificially high THC levels. Some major and recognizable cannabis brands were called out. 

“As consumers, we all want to know that what we purchase is safe, legal, and tested. This is why I introduced AB 1610,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer. “As the cannabis industry continues to grow in California my bill will help protect consumers and maintain high quality cannabis products.”

When people are essentially getting less THC than what’s on the label, trust in the system will fall apart.

AB 1610 would build on existing law and create greater transparency and trust by requiring audits, shelf product testing, and blind proficiency lab testing. It would also mandate any product recall to be publicly reported to consumers online and require that all licensed labs be annually audited by the DCC.

“When Californians voted to approve the cannabis use, we did so with a trust in the marketplace. Unfortunately, bad actors have violated that trust with improperly labeled products and artificially inflated prices,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer. “This bill, with the ability to conduct testing and product review, improves accountability and gives regulators the tools to restore consumer trust.”

Products have been recalled in California and other legalized states for unsafe levels of everything, including mold, yeast, E. coli, and salmonella. 

SC Labs has cannabis facilities in California, Oregon, Colorado, and Michigan, and the company is also a registered hemp lab in other states that require it, including Idaho, Illinois, New Mexico, New York, and Texas.

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Slow Pace of Dispensary Openings Leaves Fresno, CA. with Budget Shortfall

The slow pace of retail cannabis dispensary openings in Fresno, California has led to a budget shortfall of more than $3 million for 2023, prompting city leaders to consider changes to expedite the process to get the businesses up and running. 

California voters legalized cannabis for adults in 2016 with the passage of Proposition 64, a ballot measure that passed with more than 57% of the vote. Two years later, Fresno voters approved an ordinance to tax retail sales of recreational marijuana, setting the stage for adult-use cannabis dispensaries to open in the city. 

In 2019, the Fresno City Council amended civic ordinances to regulate recreational cannabis, and in 2021 the city began awarding the first of 19 preliminary retail cannabis dispensary licenses issued to date. But more than a year later, only two recreational marijuana retailers have opened in Fresno, a pace that is wreaking havoc with the city’s budget projections.

The city budget approved for 2023 projected that cannabis taxes and fees would generate $5.37 million in revenue for the city’s coffers. But with only two dispensaries open for business so far, the city is now projecting the cannabis tax revenue to be $2,113,100, a deficit of more than $3 million. Councilmember Nelson Esparza said that the situation is “insanity.”

“We keep over-projecting cannabis every fiscal year,” Esparza said.

Only Two Dispensaries Open So Far in Fresno

The dispensaries that have opened in Fresno, Embarc and The Artist Tree, began serving recreational marijuana customers on the same day in July 2022. The remaining 17 businesses awarded preliminary licenses have submitted their applications for conditional use permits (CUPs), which must be approved before building permits are issued and construction or renovations of the site can begin. So far, 13 of the 17 pending CPU applications have been approved, and new dispensaries could open as soon as May of this year. 

Sontaya Rose, Fresno’s director of communications, noted that the timeline for construction and opening the dispensaries is controlled by the business owners, not the city.

“So, we can’t say for sure,” Rose said in an email to The Fresno Bee.

“Overall, it is taking longer for the sites to open than was originally anticipated.”

City leaders and business owners in the cannabis industry cite several reasons for the slow pace of dispensary openings. Several of the coming dispensaries will be located in old buildings that require extensive renovations before they can open and begin serving customers, according to the city. Others have had to make accommodations for their landlords, including waiting for current tenants to vacate the building so renovations on the site can begin.

Lauren Carpenter, the CEO of Embarq, which has received preliminary approval for two cannabis dispensaries in Fresno, says that her company has experienced delays at both of the locations. The company is “working expeditiously to open our second location later this year,” Carpenter said.

“A variety of factors influenced the timing” of the first and second location, she added, “including site conditions, driving duration of build out and the speed in which tenants were able to vacate the premises.”

“Fortunately, our first location affords us the ability to serve Fresnans while training our team to become leaders in our second,” said Carpenter.

Lauren Fontein, founder of The Artist Tree, said that the state of California’s regulated cannabis industry is also influencing the opening of new businesses. Wholesale prices for cannabis have plummeted in the state, squeezing profit margins throughout the supply chain. High taxes and licensing fees for cannabis businesses also take a hefty bite out of the bottom. Many companies are struggling, and some have had to lay off workers to stay afloat.

“There’s much less an appetite for investing in the cannabis industry,” Fontein said. “It’s not this kind of cash cow business that people thought it was.”

Civic leaders in Fresno have looked to several jurisdictions for possible solutions and are considering several options to expedite the opening of additional adult-use cannabis retailers in the city. In West Hollywood, the city council amended its cannabis ordinance so more licenses could be issued, while Riverside conducted an additional round of licensing to add to the city’s roster of cannabis dispensaries. Fontein said that Fresno is considering adding deadlines to its ordinance to encourage a quicker opening of new dispensaries.

“The city just kind of needs to get practical at this point,” she said.

But the city has few options. While businesses are given a one-year deadline to submit CUP applications, the city ordinance does not have provisions that set a timeline for dispensaries to open for business.

Rose wrote in an email to the Fresno Bee that the city manager’s office is working with the staff at the city attorney’s office “to determine options for establishing additional deadlines for applicants to make progress towards opening.” But she was unable to offer a timeline to get the businesses up and running.

Until that happens, Fresno will continue to see a shortfall in projected cannabis tax revenues that could impact the city’s ability to provide services. 

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The Gap Between Advocacy and Execution

No pun intended, it’s one of the haziest problems in cannabis. Why? Because it’s hard to tell who is who. And even worse, the opposite of the foolish people that wanted to pretend they contributed to this moment are cunning-ass sharks that understand the game at every level from why pheno hunting is important, to walking the halls of Congress and the only legacy they’re worried about saving is their family office, a mechanism big money families use to create even more wealth and evade taxes. It’s truly proper ruling-class shit. 

Those scariest of fuckers are not who we’re highlighting here. They don’t even want you to know they exist. There are probably less than 20. Some of them are nicer than others. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the guys we might confuse with the worst because of their bad ideas. Many are in fact far more terrifying than any C-list trust-funder, those who have no idea what they’re doing because the level of access they gain just by showing up for years, maybe even decades. In the best case scenario, they came into the game when it was still more of a criminal justice issue and stuck around. 

But in sticking around they watched the conversation change from getting out of cages to how long until we can ship packs internationally? This is a real question at this point.

Sometimes that turned into a quest for cannabis participation trophies on top of their attendance records, while not technically nefarious, it led to a lot of headaches across America from people pretending they knew what they were talking about when it came to growing, shipping, or selling cannabis at an industrial scale. And then when you try and raise a point about the headaches being created by their idea that doesn’t come from a place of experience and you get hit with a “you should google me” by someone who has never flipped a pack, harvested, made sure they didn’t screw up a cure or pawned something to make payroll. 

Why should people without any experience dictate policy? How did we get here?

The biggest problem was how hard it was to organize cultivators in Northern California between Oaksterdam founder Richard Lee’s Prop 19 in 2010 which failed by a few points and Prop 64 in 2016 which won. And that’s California, it’s even harder to organize people in other states; it’s still extra sketchy. One of the things that compounded the problem was the more experience you had cultivating, the more likely you were to keep your head down. 

And I’m not talking shit about those people that had to keep their head down, I get it. Since my move to California in 2009 I’ve had employers and friends deal with the perils of the United States Department of Justice and its affiliates on many occasions. Most of the worst incidents were in that critical time frame for organizing. As people watched their peers and the few industry faces of the moment that went public deal with their headaches, they understandably went further up the hill or deeper into the woods. 

In that void of experience, the people got into the game to get people out of cages and started getting more involved with what cannabis legalization should look like. Some would even build their own tables to sit at and groups to populate with their personal comrades, and then attempt to speak for all growers. It was fucking madness. 

And while those deep in the game would be able to cut through the participation bullshit quickly, the policymakers those people got into the ears of were clueless or really didn’t care. A couple of fundraisers with the right politician and your 501c4 was now a player in local or federal cannabis! But these groups of pretenders would clash over money and resources. Most of the people that did the most damage in California burnt every bridge they had; they won’t be a factor in the national conversation. 

But the growers still haven’t emerged as a truly organized entity to push that goal. Most of the cultivation organizations in the industry are extremely localized. There have been statewide growers organizations in California, but much like the early social equity struggles, people felt like they were being figureheaded. 

Essentially, small farmers felt their struggles were being used to get people in the room to push their own issues. This happened so many times in California. It became very hard to organize producers leaving a void of knowledge for policymakers that might actually want to talk to someone who knows how they’re doing. 

Another side effect of these popup cannabis industry organizations is how they diluted what little voices there are, and then normalize just starting random trade groups. As I’ve noted before, these days any letter to congress looks like it was signed by all 32 NFL teams because there are so many pot organizations signing the bottom. 

The only way to solve this gap between advocacy and execution is to challenge the people trying to dictate the future. We can’t let bad policies get pushed on us by people that literally just want their voices to be heard. 

And this isn’t to hate on the real OGs. I know this awesome gay couple from San Francisco that helped Dennis Peron pass medical marijuana in 1996. They’ve been at everything since: NORML meetings, conferences, court support for farmers, the whole nine. While not experts in industrial cannabis, they played a big factor in helping get us to this day where 14,000 less Californians a year have to deal with a cannabis arrest. And I’ve never heard them once try to convince people they were experts in anything. I love that. And I never want to discourage real advocates because there are still so many people that need our help in getting out of cages. 

Just don’t pretend you know what you’re talking about.

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Dominique Worsley and the Loopy Brand: Elevating the Cannabis Industry in California and Beyond

With their passion and hard work, they are elevating the cannabis industry in California and beyond. Dominique Worsley is a cannabis cultivator and tissue culture technician. He is helping bring the Loopy Brand to life, and has been making quite a name for himself in recent months. 

Dominique Worsley’s journey in the cannabis industry began in 2017 when he had the opportunity to cultivate cannabis in the Emerald Triangle, which spans across Trinity County in California and Southern Oregon. Since then, he has advocated for legal cannabis in his home state of New Jersey until 2020, when Green Xtrax of Limerick, Maine, invited him to join their team. Dominique subsequently headed back to California to work with the Loopy Brand based out of Los Angeles, where he has been for the past three years. Dominique has also had the privilege to work with other brands such as Weed and Wellness from NYC. 

When asked about his future goals in the industry, Dominique says, “Manifestation and hard work are real. You can achieve anything you want in this world with the right mindset, discipline, and determination.” In a few years, he sees himself owning and operating several cannabis cultivation facilities across America. The brands he has worked with will blossom into Cannabis Cup-winning, multimillion-dollar businesses, with the public able to join in their success by smoking some of the greatest cannabis he and the brands have to offer.

The Loopy Brand is a high end cannabis company with over a decade of experience in the cannabis market. Their expertise in tissue culture has been instrumental in developing new strains and improving the quality of existing ones. Tissue culture is a process of cloning plants, which is essential in the cannabis industry to maintain genetic consistency and improve yield.

The Loopy Brand’s contribution to tissue culture has not gone unnoticed, and they have been recognized for it. Dominique Worsley was invited to speak at various conferences and events, where he shares his knowledge and experience with others. He was also featured in several publications, and has participated in multiple High Times Cannabis Cups in both Denver and Jamaica. 

Together, Dominique Worsley and the Loopy Brand are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the cannabis industry. They are working to create high-quality strains that are not only potent but also safe and consistent. Their passion for cannabis and dedication to their craft is evident in the quality of their work.

What sets them apart from others in the industry is their willingness to share their knowledge and experience with others. They believe that the cannabis industry is still in its infancy and has a long way to go before it reaches its full potential. They are committed to doing their part in ensuring that the industry grows in a sustainable and responsible manner.

Dominique Worsley and the Loopy Brand have substantially contributed to the cannabis sector in California and worldwide. Their devotion, hard work, and enthusiasm for their profession serve as an inspiration to others in the industry. As the industry continues to grow and evolve, it is brands like theirs who will shape its future.

Follow their Instagram accounts to stay up to date with the latest developments in the cannabis industry. Visit Dominique Worsley, Loopy Sanchez, Green Xtrax, and Weed and Wellness

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