Is The Marijuana Dispensary Break-in Wave Payback for “Defund the Police?”

If you work at a cannabis dispensary, cultivation site or distribution center in Oakland, CA, you likely spent most of New Year’s Eve with your eyes glued to a screen, nervously staring at security camera footage—like some weed version of The Purge—waiting to see if the evening would bring yet another wave of attackers to your doorstep. 2021 went and 2022 came without a reported smash-and-grab. But cannabis businesses are still on high alert in the Bay Area and much of California—a scene repeated throughout much of the country, but perhaps felt most acutely in the legalization movement’s northern California cradle.

In the final two weeks of November, there were at least 25 cannabis break-ins and burglaries at Bay Area dispensaries, according to cannabis advocates. Police response, if there was one at all, came hours later. The exception was one notorious Nov. 16 incident in San Francisco where the dispensary security feed captured not only the burglars smashing their way inside, but a carload of police, sitting outside and watching as the break-in crew ran out, tumbled into their car and executed a sloppy three-point turn before getting away scot-free—all while police watched. 

No Answers, No Outrage

That particular incident set off outrage among the cannabis community. Even so, Ali Jamalian, chair of San Francisco’s Cannabis Oversight Committee and founder/owner of the the city’s Sunset Connect manufacturing facility, says the situation hasn’t changed much. According to Jamalian, at a meeting just before Christmas, top SFPD brass apologized for the smash-and-grab incident, promised discipline for the officers involved and swore it would never happen again. If that’s true, the cops are keeping quiet. 

A request for a detailed explanation from San Francisco police and a confirmation of Jamalian’s account went unanswered. However, according to Matt Dorsey, an SFPD spokesman, the “department used the opportunity that the episode presented to engage the officers in retraining.”

Other city officials tasked with regulating cannabis seem similarly unconcerned. In an e-mail, John Pierce, the acting director of the city’s Office of Cannabis, said that only his office is “committed to continuing to create opportunities for operators and law enforcement to connect and collectively discuss and address public safety concerns.” He did not respond to further questions, nor did he address how the crime wave is affecting the industry.

Meanwhile, in on-background interviews and behind closed doors, most cannabis business operators are seething about the indifference to the increasing smash-and-grab occurrences. Across the board, they all say they feel abandoned by the police and by city government, and they wonder if it isn’t intentional—as either comeuppance for the Defund the Police movement, or just a general dislike for cannabis and disinclination to get involved. 

In any case, the rash of mostly unsolved and uninvestigated crimes comes at a crucial juncture. While the illicit market thrives, most legal cannabis business owners are crying poverty, smothered by taxes that hit 40 percent. The burglary wave is making some question the entire marijuana legalization experiment altogether, or even the industry’s imminent collapse in California.

After all, legalization meant coming out of the shadows, paying taxes—and, in theory, enjoying all the benefits a legitimate, honest citizen expects from the state, chief among them police protection. If they can’t get that, what’s the point?

Black Lives Matter murals in Oakland, CA. PHOTO by Levi Meir Clancy.

From Peace to Chaos

It wasn’t always like this. Prior to November 2016, when California voters approved adult-use marijuana legalization, there was a grand total of one attempted robbery at an Oakland medical cannabis dispensary, according to Chaney Turner, who chairs San Francisco’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission—and that robbery failed. Peace and order prevailed for more than a decade before cannabis was even fully legal.

Since then, the situation is closer to open season. Local weed stores have been robbed so many times since June 2020 that they’ve lost count—presuming that anyone, including the police, was keeping count to begin with. (A request for a total number of the smash-and-grab incidents to the Oakland Police Department was forwarded to the department’s public-records division. As of press time, that request was still pending.)

So, what’s going on? And how to stop it? To hear cannabis advocates tell it, cannabis businesses are being robbed for a very basic reason: economic need. Nearly two years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, bank accounts are empty, stimulus checks are long gone, and relief for renters and borrowers is ending. People are hungry, in other words, and weed stores are just targets of opportunity, along with many other businesses. 

“I want people to know that the cannabis robberies is not a cannabis issue—all businesses are being targeted,” Turner said. “Robberies are happening throughout the city. It’s an issue of public safety.”

Crime Up, But Robberies Not Everywhere

The dispensary break-ins come during an overall increase in property and violent crime in the state. Critics of progressive prosecutors in cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco blame new lenient state laws for the crime wave, including Prop. 47, a ballot proposition that downgraded most crimes to misdemeanors if the property involved was worth less than $950. Others, like Turner, point to the economic havoc triggered by the pandemic. 

But it’s worth pointing out the dispensary crime wave isn’t hitting every city in the state evenly. In San Jose, just a short drive to the south, dispensary operators report no such similar crime wave. “We haven’t see a lot of it in San Jose,” said Marc Matulich, the CEO of Airfield Supply Company, a large vertically integrated dispensary in that city. 

Then again, San Jose instituted stricter security controls on its cannabis industry than other cities. Airfield employs round-the-clock security guards, a $300 to $600 a night luxury some other dispensaries say they can’t afford. And, perhaps most importantly, the “defund the police” movement was not as vocal and active there compared to other cities.

Nationally, advocates for federal cannabis reform used the dispensary break-ins as a means to emphasize the need for measures like the SAFE Banking Act, a law stalled in Congress that would have made it easier for cannabis businesses to bank. 

However, as Turner pointed out, plenty of other businesses have been hit by smash-and-grab or mob-style robberies over the past year: drugstores, clothing stores and luxury retailers such as Louis Vuitton. 

“SAFE Banking is not going to stop robberies, period,” she said. “You have all these stores that have access to banking—and they’re still getting robbed.”

“But when it comes to actual police work—police work is not being done with regard to public safety,” said Turner, who pointed out that the incident in San Francisco where police stood and watched “was just the only one captured on video.”

Encouraged to Offend

At a recent Oakland cannabis commission meeting, Turner asked Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong exactly what his officers were doing during the November crime wave. In some cases, these robberies occurred while police claimed to be occupied with other things: marches after George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, sideshows and the like. 

Police had issued a warning about possible riots or marches in response to the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers in Georgia, but after the guilty verdict came in, there were no marches. There were, however, break-ins—some while police stood and watched sideshows.

The net result is that “people are now more bold,” Turner said. “If you know you can commit a crime and there won’t be any response for hours, you don’t care where you commit that crime, because no one is responding to it.”

The post Is The Marijuana Dispensary Break-in Wave Payback for “Defund the Police?” appeared first on Cannabis Now.

California Governor Expresses Support for Marijuana Tax Reform

California Governor Gavin Newsom indicated on Monday that he is open to making changes in the state’s taxation of the legal cannabis industry and urged local governments to allow legal cannabis companies to operate in their jurisdictions. After releasing a state budget proposal for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the Democratic governor told reporters that regulatory changes could support California’s legal cannabis industry while curbing the illicit market.

“It is my goal to look at tax policy to stabilize markets; at the same time, it’s also my goal to get these municipalities to wake up to the opportunities to get rid of the illegal market and the illicit market and provide support and a regulatory framework for the legal market,” Newsome said at a press conference on Monday, and added, “We have a lot of work to do in this space and this year I’m looking forward to working directly with the legislature on reforms.”

Last month, dozens of activists and licensed cannabis operators sent a letter to Newsom warning of a potential collapse of California’s regulated cannabis industry. The group argued that high taxes are making licensed businesses unprofitable and promoting competition from illicit operators. 

In the budget proposal, the Newsom administration projects that the state will collect $787 million over the 2022-2023 tax year, which represents a decrease of about $34.2 million compared to the 2021 state budget. The budget estimates that of the cannabis tax revenue raised, approximately $595 million will be available to fund substance abuse treatment, environmental remediation of illicit cannabis cultivation operations and activities related to public safety.

The proposed budget notes that the Newsom administration supports cannabis reform and plans to work with the state legislature to amend California’s tax policy. The administration also plans to continue developing a grant program “that will aid local governments in, at a minimum,  opening up legal retail access to consumers.”

“We’ve plugged in budget components on the basis of an estimate in January of $787 million, so any reforms need to consider the impacts to those categories of funding and investments, how that gets offset, and we augment that support,” Newsom said when asked to clarify the language in the budget proposal. “It should consider different components of the industry, and reformers have been offered a plug-in, and so I’ll just leave it at that except to say there was intention by having that language in the budget.”

California Budget Funds New Regulatory Proposals

The budget proposal allocates $13.6 million dollars to fund several proposals for the state’s Department of Cannabis Control, including $5.5 million to develop a unified single licensing system for future cannabis business licenses and the transition of existing licensing data. In addition, $2.2 million will be spent to create a data warehouse to store the department’s data, processes, and procedures to maintain data integrity, as well as data displays and visualizations for the DCC website. Another $6.1 million will fund a multi-year consumer awareness and safety education campaign.

Blake Schroeder, CEO of San Diego-based Medical Marijuana, Inc., applauded the budget’s investment in cannabis data and licensing systems. But he criticized the overall reduction in cannabis spending, saying “it’s a shame that funds that would typically ensure more public and environmental safety in the industry are being cut.”

“Cannabis has been wrongly deemed the ‘Wild Wild West’ many times before, but there are still safety precautions, and consequences for illicit operators, that must be enforced,” Schroeder wrote in an email to High Times. “We are excited by the state’s renewed commitment to cannabis awareness programs, as this is a large part of our mission as well.” 

But Danielle Dao, founder and co-CEO of California-licensed cannabis operator Eco Farm Holdings PBC, criticized the amount spent on regulators and called for cannabis tax funds to be spent to prop up licensed operators struggling with competition from the illicit market and local bans on cannabis commerce.

“Attempting to operate a cannabis business while 60 percent of the state is comprised of counties that have banned cannabis or created lengthy multi-year processes for licensure reflects a failure from the state to enact a functional supply chain,” Dao wrote in an email.

Before the California budget is finalized, state lawmakers will also submit a proposed budget this spring. Lawmakers will then hold a series of budget policy committee hearings before drafting the final budget bill, which must be passed by the legislature and signed by the governor to become law.

The post California Governor Expresses Support for Marijuana Tax Reform appeared first on High Times.

Petition Seeks Help Protecting Small Cannabis Farmers in the Emerald Triangle

The cannabis industry’s famed Emerald Triangle is made up of the lush growing regions in Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties of Northern California—but high taxes and large corporations are threatening this community of multi-generational farmers who want to grow high quality weed as a passion, not just for profit.

One local Humboldt advocate and farm owner, Rose Moberly, is bringing awareness to the plight of the Emerald Triangle by circulating a petition to gain support.

Moberly has an impressive and extensive history working in the cannabis history. Starting from her roots interning for the Colorado Senate as an environmental lobbyist to rising in the ranks of a trimming job, grow facilities and even a track-and-trace METRC auditor, she’s explored many facets of the cannabis industry. Things really took off two years ago when she was invited to travel to California to educate small farmers about the track-and-trace system.

Ultimately, this path led her not only to find love, but also to her current role as co-operator of a second-generation farm called Huckleberry Hill Farms. “Long story short, I wound up falling in love with a certain legacy farmer [John Casali], who challenges me to be a better woman everyday, and I moved out [to Humboldt] over two years ago.”

Photo Credit: Ben Neff

Moberly describes Huckleberry Hill Farms “as mom-and-pop as it can get!” and her passion for cannabis advocacy and growing knows no bounds. However, small farmers in the Emerald Triangle are facing a dire situation. The tight-knit region of farmers are being challenged by corporations, who jumped onto the cannabis bandwagon once it hit mainstream popularity, without little effort in advocacy or legalization assistance.

“I think it’s important for people to realize where a multi-billion-dollar industry is being created from, and what they had to go through with the War on Drugs in order to legalize this amazing powerful plant,” Moberly told High Times.

More importantly, the shockingly high cultivation taxes that are required to grow in California makes operation difficult for all small farmers, not just those who operate within the Emerald Triangle region. If the current trajectory for taxes doesn’t change, it could be game over for small farmers everywhere. “All farmers no matter where they are in the state of California are suffering from over taxation and over supply,” she explained. “Together we need to communicate with regulators that if they are going to continue to permit farms without federal legalization, they will continue to drive the price down. The Emphasis on the Emerald Triangle has to do with protecting a culture that is not found anywhere else in the entire world, not just California.”

Moberly is confident that some of the nation’s best and most unique cannabis strains are bred in the Emerald Triangle, and if those farmers are forced to shut down due to exorbitant tax requirements, those strains could also disappear forever. “Furthermore, the Emerald Triangle is like the Amazon jungle of genetics. Some of the Legacy Growers here, I’m sure, hold a unique strain of cannabis that might even have the cure for cancer, or Autism, epilepsy, etc,” she said. “If those Farms aren’t able to make it in today’s climate some of those strains and cultivars might possibly be lost forever.”

Moberly shared that a recent local survey showed that 50 to 60 percent of cannabis farms won’t survive through 2022 if some kind of emergency regulations are put in place. Which is why she decided to take action and start the petition “Save the Emerald Triangle Legacy Cannabis Farmers.”

“As a result, farmers who sold flower products last year at $1,400 a pound are now forced to sell their products at $300 per lb to pay their bills,” she wrote on the petition webpage. “Due to the state’s fixed dollar tax, those farmers will be asked to pay a 53 percent cultivation tax of $161.28; while the remaining leaf product which some farmers had to offload as low as $15 per pound will be charged $48 per pound for state taxes. At that price, they’re being subjected to a 320 percent tax rate!”

With enough signatures, she will send a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom, as well as state legislature, to plead the case on behalf of California farmers everywhere. In the meantime, you can help support the cause by visiting the petition here.

The post Petition Seeks Help Protecting Small Cannabis Farmers in the Emerald Triangle appeared first on High Times.

Exploring Cannabis Culture: Los Angeles

I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They’re beautiful. Everybody’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic” – Andy Warhol

Next up in our cannabis culture articles, we’re heading over to the land of opportunity: America. More specifically, we’re off to the home of the rich and famous: the city of Los Angeles. The USA has varying views on cannabis, mainly due to the fact that each of its 50 states has their own laws on cannabis legalization. This means that whilst one state might accept cannabis both recreationally and medically, another may not. Today we’re going to be diving into the cannabis laws and pot culture within the state of California, and more specifically, the city of LA; figuring out what cannabis really means there. Remember, cannabis culture isn’t just about laws or the government, it’s about the people. Culture is made by people. So, without more delay, let’s stroll past the Hollywood sign and into the land of LA. 

Whether you’re talking about the US, Europe, or anywhere else in the world, cannabis culture can vary significantly. To learn about laws across the globe, make sure to subscribe to The THC Weekly Newsletter, your hub for all things cannabis-related. Also save big on Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!


Los Angeles

Los Angeles, or also referred to as LA if you’re especially cool, is a city in the US state of California. LA has a population of 3.8 million people and is the second biggest city in America. Often when people arrive there, they forget that, and end up having to get an Uber everywhere.  LA is only beaten in size by New York. The city is known worldwide for its celebrities, film and music industry, incredible beaches and, of course, Hollywood. LA is seen probably more on TV than in real life, which makes it quite a surreal place when actually visited. Nonetheless, LA is also home to real people with real lives. In regards to politics, LA is a Democratic safe seat, and has voted in the Democratic Party every year since 1988. The governor of Los Angeles is the Democratic Party member John Bel Edwards. This highlights to liberal attitude of California as a state, which we’ll delve more into later. So is LA a nice place to live? Well, the truth is that LA is like marmite: some people love it, and some people can’t stand it. But let’s take a look at some of its major highlights. 

Hollywood

Marilyn Monroe, one of the greatest singers, performers and actors of the 1950s, said this about Hollywood: “Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.”

Hollywood is a neighbourhood in LA, which is the home of everything related to the entertainment industry: the Oscars awards, Paramount Pictures, star-studded walk of fame and the TCL Chinese Theatre.

Hollywood became a centre of the film industry in the early 1900s because film-makers were free from suing threats there. In addition, it had warm weather and stretching landscapes that are perfect for film locations. Now, Hollywood is still the home of film, and home to some of the most famous celebrities alive.

Music Industry 

LA isn’t just famous for its acting industry, it also is the dream location for all aspiring music artists and is home to some incredible music labels. Not only are there some incredible music companies in LA – such as Live Music, Universal and Sony – but it was also a place where the 90s rap genre really flourished. Artists like Dr Dre, Easy E, Snoop Dogg and all of NWA all came to LA to record and play some of their best music. LA is still very much a hub of entertainment opportunity. 

Beaches 

Los Angeles may have an incredible entertainment industry, but it also has some geographic wonders too. In fact, LA has some of the best beaches in America. Santa Monica, Malibu, Huntington and Redondo are just some of the incredible sun-kissed beaches that LA has to offer. If you get bored of the stressful hustling and bustling of Hollywood, the beautiful beaches will soon calm you down.

Is Cannabis Legal in Los Angeles?

Short answer: yes. Long answer: whilst some laws are universal in America, most differ from state to state; and there are 50 of them, so that’s a lot of potentially varied laws

There are actually two different sets of laws; federal laws and state laws. … Constitutional law permits each state to create and enforce additional laws for their state. Each state is considered sovereign and has the power to create laws as needed. Each state is considered unique with its own characteristics.”

In America, their cannabis policy revolves around the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, which states that the use and possession of cannabis is illegal under any circumstance. However, this is not the case in some states. One of these cannabis-accepting states being: California. The act splits all drugs into five ‘schedules’. 

The 5 Schedules

Schedule I

  • This includes: cannabis, LSD, heroin and ecstacy.
  • This is the most serious schedule, as the law-maker believes these are the most addictive and most likely to be abused. 

Schedule II

  • These include: cocaine and mephedrone.

Schedule III

  • These include: ketamine and anabolic steroids. 

Schedule IV

  • These include: xanax and valium.

Schedule V

  • These include: lomotil and motofen. 

However, despite cannabis being part of the Schedule I group, it’s still legal recreationally in 18 states, and medically in 37. How can this be? This is because these specific states have passed cannabis reform bills that have bypassed federal law. California is one of those states. In California, cannabis has been legal medically since 1996, and recreationally since 2021. 

The Specific Cannabis Laws in LA

Since June 2021, recreational cannabis is legal in California. Since then, the law states that

“You must be 21 or older to have, purchase or use recreational cannabis. This includes smoking, vaping and eating cannabis-infused products. You may possess 28.5 grams of cannabis plant material (about an ounce) and 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. It is illegal to give or sell retail cannabis to minors.”

As you can see, California is rivaling Amsterdam with its cannabis laws. It seems like yet another weed-topia. However, as we’ve mentioned countless times, cannabis culture isn’t about the laws, it’s about the people. So what do the people of LA think of cannabis, and what are their lives like with all cannabis now becoming legalized. 

The City’s General Attitude To Cannabis 

The state of California has a population of 40 million people and it was recorded that California produced 13.5 million pounds of cannabis. That’s almost half a gram for each individual living there. This just goes to show how much cannabis is being produced and enjoyed in California and, more specifically, Los Angeles. The city champions its laid back attitude and cool aesthetic, which is only improved by legal cannabis. Like Amsterdam, LA is another perfect model for any city that one day wishes to also legalize recreational cannabis. But let’s take a look at how cannabis affects day to day life. 

Cannabis Dispensaries

Cannabis dispensaries, like coffeeshops in Amsterdam, are places where Americans can purchase recreational cannabis. There are now over 1000 cannabis dispensaries and definitely more on the way. This has created many jobs in Los Angeles. In fact, the cannabis industry in Los Angeles has made $3.1 billion in sales since 2019. This makes LA the highest cannabis-selling state in America. This also highlights how lucrative the cannabis dispensary industry is in America, and how much the American people utilise it. 

Beach Lifestyle

As you’ve realised, the beach lifestyle in Los Angeles is part of the culture and the way of life. The relaxation, the water, perhaps even the surfing; it’s all part of a meditative lifestyle. As you can imagine, beach culture also goes hand-in-hand with cannabis culture. Los Angeles is full of weed-enthusiasts who chill out at the beach, converse, listen to music and promote a relaxed way of living. It’s good to know that whilst there’s the hectic entertainment industry, with its money and fame, there’s also a parallel universe of hippies enjoying cannabis with the sound of the ocean. From one extreme to the next – that’s Los Angeles for you.

Tourism

Just like Amsterdam, cannabis tourism is rife in Los Angeles. That’s not just Americans escaping their state where cannabis is illegal, but also people from across the water. There are tours, cannabis crawls, multiple strains of cannabis; the place is built for weed tourism. This brings with it a traveller culture, and more diversity. Lots of people, from many walks of life, all with the same love for the marijuana plant. 

Conclusion

There you have it, cannabis culture in Los Angeles. Places like LA are seriously testing the waters for the future of cannabis-accepting cities, and the world will thank them in time to come.  Like Amsterdam did before in, LA is leading the charge and may one day be part of a United States of America where all states have fully legalised cannabis. But in the meantime, whilst we wait, why not go check out the cannabis culture in Los Angeles for yourself?

Hello and welcome… Thanks for joining us at CBDtesters.co, your #1 web source for the most intriguing and thought-provoking cannabis and psychedelics-related news of today. Stop by daily to get your fix in this constantly-changing universe of legal drugs and industrial hemp, and remember to sign up for The THC Weekly Newsletter, to ensure you’re never late on getting a story.

DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

The post Exploring Cannabis Culture: Los Angeles appeared first on CBD Testers.

Best-Of Picks: The Harvest Ball 2021

Earlier this month marked the inaugural Emerald Cup Harvest Ball. The Santa Rosa County Fairgrounds came alive as the epicenter of craft California cannabis. The two-day Harvest Ball event showcased an epic craft cannabis farmer’s market and celebrated the season’s freshest fall flower. It’s an extravaganza of excellence that honors the year’s most dope organic and sun-grown flower.

After two years of smoking in solitude, returning to live events is an exciting prospect for California, the cannabis community and the culture. I made sure to be among the crowd of 10,000-plus excited cannabis enthusiasts in attendance for the inaugural Harvest Ball and Craft Cannabis Marketplace. 

Planning for my trip to the Bay Area, I knew that I would find fire flowers from all over the state. Coming from the East Coast, I was pumped to see what California cannabis was all about. Top priority? Advance my understanding of the quality of the sun-grown smoke coming out of the legendary Emerald Triangle.

Courtesy of Harvest Ball

Sun-grown, Not Schwag

“The sun-grown herb has a whole different effect and flavor,” said Jason Gellman, second-generation Southern Humboldt Cannabis Farmer and Founder of Ridgeline Farms. 

Gellman went on to say, “We have dedicated our lives to growing the finest Cannabis on earth. There are so many amazing farmers in the Emerald Triangle that the quality and potency keep climbing. We grow the best so you can smoke the best.” Color me intrigued.

Jason was kind enough to put me in touch with a handful of other legacy growers from the Emerald Triangle’s Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity Counties. With my leads from Ridgeline in tow, I sent some messages on Instagram and boarded my flight to SFO.

Courtesy of Harvest Ball

Into the Triangle… Kind Of

I woke up the next day to a text from the legendary Johnny Casali of Huckleberry Hill Farm fame. The man is an actual living legend in California cannabis culture, but more on that later. 

Johnny had heard I was here to see the heat grown up on the hill this past season, and he wanted to make sure I saw it perfectly.

He extended an invite to hit the fairgrounds and meet with some cannabis farmers a few hours before general admission. 

Early access to the Harvest Ball Cannabis Marketplace? Awesome! A chance to meet with these legacy growers to see and sample their finest flower? Hell yes!

Harvest Ball
Courtesy of Harvest Ball

Breakfast of Champions

I met the homies for an early breakfast at the now weed-famous Flamingo Hotel. 

Each table in the Flamingo dining room is packed before 9 a.m.—it was a room filled with the architects and arbiters of West Coast cannabis culture, all sharing breakfast together. The feelings of joy permeated the room; it was apparent everyone in attendance was extremely pumped to be back together again.

Breakfast was a vibe, during which, as fate would have it, I was gifted a pre-roll of one of Huckleberry Hill Farms legendary strains: “Whitethorn Rose.”

This heady breakfast joint would be my first experience smoking sun-grown bud from the triangle, and it did not disappoint. Post-puff, I arrived at the fairgrounds parking lot buzzing with excitement and blasted by the berry terpene profile of the classic Casali strain.

Harvest Ball
Courtesy of Harvest Ball

Not in NYC Anymore

I must have simply flown inside the fairgrounds because shortly after parking the car, I found myself right in the heart of the event, literally hours before it opened to the public. 

In an instant, I was surrounded by food trucks, epic outdoor staging and branded consumption lounges galore, met with giant indoor pavilions and a solid selection of epic, custom-built outdoor activations from some of the biggest hitters in the game. Included were the likes of Seed Junky and STIIIZY.

Harvest Ball
Courtesy of Harvest Ball

The Best Indoor Bud and Outdoor Booths

AlienLabs/Connected/Doja Pak shared a fantastic installation for their booth, an epic collaboration with some truly iconic offerings. I grabbed some super stupid good Biskantè indoor-grown by AlienLabs for a friend with serious FOMO who could not attend (shout out, Jon Cappetta).

My runner-up pick for most dope outdoor activations is Cookies. They came through and set up a neon-lit, color-changing geodesic dome. After securing a small stash at the outdoor activations, I continued my way down the central ave.

Compound Genetics was next to catch my eye. They have always had an objectively sick style and consistently clean approach to their brand aesthetic. 

The two-story, multi-purpose structure they assembled on-site from a repurposed shipping container. The creativity of this booth alone makes it my choice for the most dope outdoor activation at the Harvest Ball. 

Harvest Ball
Courtesy of Harvest Ball

Instagram Comes to Life

Inside, on level one of the Compound Genetics booths, I spot two friendly faces, the legendary Breeder and Compound Genetics founder Chris Lynch plus the one and only Jimi Divine, aka one of the hardest-working weed journalists in the game.

We all chatted briefly, and I got the chance to congratulate Chris [Lynch] on the new Apples and Bananas crosses seed drop. Chris told me it was “the culmination of a lot of hard work… extremely excited to be here all together with everyone to celebrate.” 

Chris and his relentless optimism always humble me. This positivity appeared to be echoed by everyone during a magical two days north of the bay. Even the cold NorCal rain that poured down all of day two was no match for the positive vibes this group of humans collectively radiates.

Harvest Ball felt like Instagram had manifested itself into reality. I was scrolling through my feed in person, using my legs, not just my pointer finger. I wandered the grounds, sparking up with old homies, new friends and personal heroes, wading through an epic sea of West Coast weed legends. Truly a trip.

Harvest Ball
Courtesy of Harvest Ball

Small Farms Initiative

By now, it was close to 10 a.m., and I was excited to get a peek behind the “Redwood Curtain.” so we all said goodbye for now and set off to the indoor “Hall of Flowers” Pavilion.

The Small Farms Initiative at The Harvest Ball aims to provide a platform to promote the foundational local growers to the thousands of cannabis connoisseurs attending the event.

Collectively, those selected farmers represented every corner of the Emerald Triangle. Twenty-seven legacy cannabis farms were assembled and given pro-bono exhibition space, all with the vision of lifting and amplifying these small farms in the global marketplace.

Courtesy of Jesse Hershberger

Death by Taxes

It is essential to understand that the past few years have been incredibly tumultuous in California cannabis. Further regulatory hurdles, a flooded market, falling prices and inconceivably high taxes are particularly tough pills (for anyone) to swallow. Given these hurdles, most small, craft cannabis farms have struggled to stay afloat. 

Even from an outsider’s perspective, it’s clear as day that the cultivation tax is broken at best and downright predatory at worst. The state’s idea to raise the tax in January to $161.28/lb Feels like an open slap in the face to most of these legacy farmers, in addition to local taxes. 

I would love to see anybody try and make a case for how an initial tax rate of over 50 percent is even close to reasonable. Anybody? Go on; I’ll wait.

All that said, the resilience of these Emerald Triangle farmers is impressive, and so was their flower. 

Harvest Ball
Courtesy of Harvest Ball

A Warm Welcome from the Farmers

Time seemed to race as I spoke with over a dozen legacy cannabis farmers about growing the best sun-grown bud. Everyone I met was so excited to share their stories, passions and labors of love with me, a relative stranger. Undoubtedly a heart-warming experience amid these strange days of social distancing. 

I have to shout out Johnny Casali personally here, who leveraged his legendary status among his community of Emerald Triangle farmers, granting me access to their world and their weed. 

For those who don’t know, Johnny Casali is a second-generation cannabis grower and breeder. Johnny runs Huckleberry Hill Farm with his girlfriend Rose, where he cultivates and breeds some of the dopest genetics in all of Humboldt.

Casali followed a rocky path to becoming one of the state’s first licensed cannabis operations. In 1992, when cultivation was still very much illegal in California, Casali was arrested after federal agents raided his gardens. Although he was a first-time, nonviolent offender, mandatory minimum guidelines meant he would be sentenced to 10 years to life in federal prison for a plant, and he served eight. Upon release in 2000, Johnny returned to his home in the Emerald Triangle, a folk hero. 

Farms Worth Fighting For

While this community is by no means out of the woods (no pun intended), after meeting the people, hearing the stories and smoking the bud firsthand from the farmer, I can say wholeheartedly that this pillar of the cannabis culture deserves saving.

Regardless, one thing is abundantly clear. These farmers care about their communities with such depth that they’re willing to go above and beyond to work through byzantine and largely pointless regulatory hoops to bring you the heat. 

I need to give everyone an enormous shout out for showing this East Coast kid what West Coast weed is all about. With that said, let’s get down to it. Here is a rundown of the best buds and hottest heat from the 2021 Harvest Ball. This opportunity warmed my heart, and I can’t wait to see everyone again next year!

Harvest Ball
Courtesy of Harvest Ball

Standouts from the Show

This is by no means a complete list of all the heat that one could come upon at the Harvest Ball. We all walk our own path, so by all means, if you saw the heat, and it’s not here, hit me up on Instagram and let me know: @east_coast_kid_

Ridgeline Farms

Second-generation grower Jason Gelman of Ridgeline Farm has come into some minor celebrity as of late. He is what I call weed famous. One of the first legacy growers to team up with Berner’s Cookies through the Humboldt Grown Initiative, Ridgeline’s award-winning genetics speak for themselves. The organic, sun-grown flower was the top-selling SKU in Cookies California retail locations for weeks in 2021. That’s saying something.

For Jason and the team at Ridgeline Farms, “The most exciting thing about this collaboration is how many people that have never smoked sun-grown can now enjoy true craft cannabis,” he told me. That said, Jason’s farm in SoHum focuses on quality over quantity that is clear to see.

Best-in-show buds from Ridgeline included Lantz, Green Lantern and Ridgeline Runtz. My favorite was Green Lantern. This strain is pure gas and a powerful illustration of the best that Kush can be. The nose is Diesel fuel dominant, and the flower reaches THC levels as high as 35 percent. 

Green Lantern was my go-to ganja all weekend. Far from a fan of pre-rolled pot, I proudly puffed at least 15 of them during my two-day stay in the bay. Keep an eye on Ridgeline Farms in the New Year; definitely cop some yourself if you get the chance. 

AlienLabs

AlienLabs’ Harvest Ball offerings were impressive. AlienLabs has a stellar reputation for pushing the envelope to create unique exotic strains. The brand is constantly moving the conversation forward, which has earned the team my respect. 

Honestly, I vouch for everything that comes out of its operation. Alien is all about finer things, for those who like their finer things a little weird… this is something I can appreciate.

Native Humboldt Farms

I am incredibly excited to get the opportunity to talk about this next heady contender. Native Humboldt Farms is a small farm in Southeast Humboldt owned and operated by Lindsey Renner and Jon Obliskey. To say this small farm is doing big things is putting it mildly. 

This past season 5,000 square foot of canopy space was dedicated to growing three top-notch genetics for Cookies. This dynamic duo produces storied strains like Cheetah Piss and Sunshine #4 as a collaboration between legacy cultivators in the Emerald Triangle called the Cookies Humboldt Initiative.

My favorite from Native had to be its organic, sun-grown take on the famous Orangutan genetics by Heavyweight heads. I had the opportunity to compare the Orangutan indoor and sun-grown versions side-by-side. Feel free to call me crazy, but the sun-grown smells gassier and just smacks harder than the same genetics grown indoors. Maybe the most full-spectrum experience does come from the sun? I’m a believer.

Briceland Forest Farms

These heads had an excellent setup at The Harvest Ball. An immersive, farmers’ market-style experience highlighted a cornucopia of buds grown under the sun. The growers at Briceland Forest Farms are faithful stewards of their land, and their passion for the plant is palpable. Briceland’s organic and regenerative farming practices make a perfect model for authentic pot permaculture.

My pick is their Mother’s Milk Pheno #31—a cut from the original Bodhi Seeds cross. THC levels in the Mother’s Milk from Briceland Forest Farm’s reserve is a strong 22 to 23 percent with terp levels exceeding four percent on this latest batch. Needless to say, this fresh farm bud blew me away. 

Canna Country Farms

Ted Blair and the team from Canna Country Farm, along with their Forbidden Fruit x Cherimoya cross “The #26,” is a perfect reminder of how variety is the spice of life. 

The team at Canna Country painstakingly bred this bud in a clear labor of love that you can feel when consuming the flower. The #26 won the Breeders Cup and took second place in the sun-grown flower category at last year’s Emerald Cup Awards.

The #26 stands out as a favorite from the event for many reasons. Perhaps most notable is the expression of an incredibly rare terpene called Ocimene. The #26 has a sweet, woodsy fragrance and undoubtedly holds therapeutic properties.

The #26 aside, Blair’s breeding prowess is evident. He and his team entered three cultivars in the Emerald Cup, and all three strains were selected within the top 21. That said, you should consider yourself lucky to get your hands on anything these guys breed. I certainly do. Keep an eye out for Canna Country Farms.

Connected

The people over at Connected pretty much always do it proper. I have been a massive fan of their Gelonade x Biscotti cross Lemonatti. Not going to lie, I love the name, and I know it’s not the “newest drop,” but I think it is some of the best bud available at that price point.

The result of a tirelessly epic pheno-hunt (#17, to be exact), I think it is a perfect expression of the best of what both parents have to offer. Get yourself some.

Huckleberry Hill

Earlier, I noted Huckleberry Hill Farms and briefly touched on the legend of Johnny Casali. Casali is Second Generation grower and breeder in Humboldt. Now I want to let everyone know what’s good with his weed.

Every offering Johnny gave me that weekend was packed with pure power and super-expressive flavors. The Whitethorn Rose; if I put things in a box, I categorize this cultivar as “Dessert Wine Weed.” The perfect antidote to the dessert strain hype. 

Courtesy of Jesse Hershberger

His other most notable is “Mom’s Weed”—which Johnny grows as an homage to his beloved mother, who taught him all he knows about the plant. This strain aims to honor the vital, though often overlooked, role that women have historically played and continue to play on cannabis farms.

This is one of many things that make Johnny unique as a cannabis grower. Each strain he breeds and cultivates on his farm is rich in narrative. A born storyteller, he believes in the power of the place. His weed has resonated with many because it is unique to the farmer. Especially in the cannabis market today, authenticity is a veritable currency that must be valued and preserved. 

My favorite of Johnny’s buds? Personally, that pick goes to the Paradise Punch x Zookies cross called Amalfi. Testing at a substantial 27.98 percent total THC, I challenge any skeptic of sun-grown to hit that and still hold that outdated opinion. With an intense aroma of muddled fruit in a gas can, this strain smells and tastes fantastic, with a cerebral effect that certainly smacks. Ask for it by name. Tell them Johnny sent you.

The post Best-Of Picks: The Harvest Ball 2021 appeared first on High Times.

California Cannabis Operators Warn of Possible Industry Collapse

Leaders of California cannabis companies warned Gov. Gavin Newson and lawmakers last week that the state’s regulated marijuana industry is in danger of collapse, calling for tax relief and an improved retail market to support ailing businesses.

In a letter sent to Newsom, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, and Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon, more than two dozen cannabis advocates and industry executives noted that the goals of cannabis legalization in California included ending the illicit marijuana market and protecting public safety while creating an accountable regulated industry. But four years after the start of legal sales, the “industry is collapsing.”

“We need you to understand that we have been pushed to a breaking point,” the cannabis industry leaders wrote in the letter to Newsom and legislative leaders.

The Shortcomings of California Cannabis Legalization

The letter cites several shortcomings of cannabis legalization in California, including high taxation for legal operators that results in dispensary prices that are 50% more than the illicit market. Industry leaders also faulted the ability of local governments to ban cannabis businesses from locating in their jurisdictions, a situation that leaves only one-third of municipalities with local access to regulated cannabis products. The result is a market ripe for unregulated operators, with 75% of the cannabis in California coming from the illicit market, all of it untested and potentially unsafe.

Industry executives also noted the failure to adequately address the harms caused to communities of color by the failed War on Drugs. Taken together, cannabis legalization has led to a regulatory environment that threatens the viability of cannabis businesses, particularly legacy operators making the transition from California’s traditional unregulated market.

“It is critical to recognize that an unwillingness to effectively legislate, implement, and oversee a functional regulated cannabis industry has brought us to our knees,” they wrote. “The California cannabis system is a nation-wide mockery; a public policy lesson in what not to do.”

“Despite decades of persecution by the government, we have been willing and adaptable partners in the struggle to regulate cannabis,” the letter continues. “We have asked tirelessly for change, with countless appeals to lawmakers that have gone unheard. We have collectively reached a point of intolerable tension, and we will no longer support a system that perpetuates a failed and regressive War on Drugs.”

Businesses and groups signing the letter to Newsom include California Cannabis Industry Association, the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the Los Angeles-based United Cannabis Business Association, Papa & Barkley, Flow Kana Inc., Harborside Inc., and CannaCraft.

Cannabis Industry Pleads for Tax Relief

Those signing the letter asked for the elimination of California’s cultivation tax, which they say makes cannabis the only agricultural product that is taxed at the farm. Noting the state’s $31 billion budget surplus, they also requested a three-holiday from collecting the cannabis excise tax, followed by a graduated return of the tax over subsequent years.

“We are looking for an immediate suspension of the cultivation tax, which is an incredibly burdensome tax that compounds throughout the legal supply chain,” Lindsay Robinson, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, told reporters at a virtual press conference on Friday. “So that’s one avenue that we are pursuing. We’d also like the lawmakers through the legislative process or the budget process. Consider suspending the excise tax or reducing the excise tax for the foreseeable future until the legal market can really start to grow and thrive.”

The industry executives also called for an expansion of retail access to support floundering operators, noting that 68% of local governments have failed to allow for regulated cannabis in their jurisdictions. They propose legislation that would force every city and county where a majority of voters approved Proposition 64, the landmark cannabis legalization initiative passed by voters in 2016, to adopt measures to regulate cannabis by July 1, 2022. Jurisdictions that failed to act would default to the state’s rules for regulated cannabis.

CannaCraft chief of government and consumer affairs Tiffany Devitt says that California has not lived up to the goals of cannabis legalization and is putting the health of the industry in jeopardy.

“The Newsom administration is failing the majority of California voters who support legal recreational marijuana by perpetuating wrong-headed tax, licensing and enforcement policies that are decimating a once vibrant industry,” Devitt wrote in an email to Cannabis Now. “Inaction is costing our state jobs, strengthening the already dominant illicit market, and ensuring that one of California’s great heritage industries will be non-competitive when federal legalization occurs.”

Erin Mellon, a spokeswoman for the governor, said in a statement that Newsom supports cannabis tax reform and recognizes the system needs reform, including increased efforts to stem the unregulated market.

“It’s clear that the current tax construct is presenting unintended but serious challenges,” Mellon said. “Any tax-reform effort in this space will require action from two-thirds of the Legislature and the Governor is open to working with them on a solution.”

The post California Cannabis Operators Warn of Possible Industry Collapse appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Congressional Leaders Publish 2022 Plan for Federal Cannabis Legalization

Congressional leaders in the effort to reform U.S. cannabis policy published a plan to legalize marijuana nationwide in 2022, saying that is “time for the federal government to catch up to the rest of the country.” In a memo from Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Rep. Barbara Lee of California, the co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus issued a progress report on steps taken by Congress on marijuana legalization in 2021. They also outlined steps to continue the effort next year, citing several pieces of legislation pending before the nation’s lawmakers.

“The table is set and the time is right for comprehensive cannabis reform, which will make a huge difference for people around the country,” Blumenauer said in a statement on December 16. “This year, we’ve advanced the MORE Act closer to the finish line, passed the SAFE Banking Act, and made progress in terms of research. Most importantly, we’ve watched this issue gain more momentum than ever with the American people—almost 70 percent of whom, including a majority of Republicans, want to see federal reform. Let’s get it done.”

In the memo, Blumenauer and Lee write that “2021 was a transformative year for cannabis reform, in which five new states–New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Virginia, Connecticut–legalized adult-use cannabis, and Alabama became the 37th state to legalize medical cannabis. A wealth of policy ideas targeted at ending cannabis prohibition on the federal level have also been introduced on Capitol Hill. This growing bipartisan momentum for cannabis reform shows Congress is primed for progress in 2022, and we are closer than ever to bringing our cannabis policies and laws in line with the American people.”

Lawmakers List Legislative Priorities for 2022

The memo also details priorities for next year, including federal descheduling of marijuana, sentencing reform, industry equity, and support for cannabis research. The plan includes several pieces of legislation already under consideration by Congress, including the SAFE Banking Act and the MORE Act. Under the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, federal banking regulators would be prohibited from penalizing banks that choose to serve cannabis firms doing business in compliance with state law. The legislation was initially introduced in the House of Representatives in 2013 by Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, who has reintroduced the bill every congressional cycle since.

Under the MORE Act, cannabis would be removed from the list of drugs regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, criminal penalties for federal cannabis offenses would be eliminated, and past federal cannabis convictions would be expunged. The bill, H.R. 3617, also establishes a tax on retail cannabis sales, with revenue raised by the tax invested in communities that were harmed under federal marijuana prohibition policies. The legislation was approved by the House Judiciary Committee in September and is still pending before several other House committees in its path to approval.

Blumenauer and Lee, both Democrats, also made note of an alternative to the MORE Act introduced by Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina. They wrote that Mace’s bill, the States Reform Act, “adds an additional bipartisan perspective as to how to best normalize our nation’s cannabis laws.”

Creating an Equitable Cannabis Industry

The memorandum released by Lee and Blumenauer also calls for progress on sentencing reform for those convicted of federal cannabis offenses, arguing that “we must expunge cannabis-related convictions and allocate more resources to communities most impacted by the racist War on Drugs” once cannabis is legalized nationally. The lawmakers also called for support for research into the therapeutic effects of cannabis, including for veterans, as well as provisions to ensure equity in the cannabis industry once legalization is achieved.

“For states making progress on cannabis reform, we must ensure access to the growing cannabis industry is equitable,” the memo reads. “In addition to investing in the communities most impacted by the war on drugs, it’s crucial that states incentivize equal opportunity to participate in the cannabis industry, especially for people of color.”

In total, the memo cites nearly two dozen pieces of legislation that have been introduced to advance cannabis policy reform at the national level. Lee said that it is “time for the federal government to catch up to the rest of the country and start leading on cannabis reform.”

“The solutions for comprehensive reform are there, and this year we made progress. We’ve passed the MORE Act in the House, the SAFE Banking Act, and several Appropriations provisions,” Lee said in last week’s joint statement. “It’s far past time Congress move to finally get this across the finish line. Ending the war on drugs is an issue of racial equity and a moral imperative.”

The post Congressional Leaders Publish 2022 Plan for Federal Cannabis Legalization appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Freakshow! Weed Gets Weird

About six years ago, Jordan was approaching his 40th anniversary as a cannabis grower. He believed he was through — ready to quit a lifelong hobby and ready to liquidate a priceless (and, as it would turn out, wholly unique) seed bank, the product of decades of careful labor — because he was bored.

It wasn’t that the self-described “hillbilly,” whose last name Cannabis Now is withholding at his request, didn’t love weed. He’d had his first hit before he was a teenager, started collecting seeds at 17, and started sprouting huge trays, producing hundreds of seedlings, shortly thereafter. What Jordan didn’t love was what had happened to weed: It wasn’t weird anymore.

Jordan is an autodidact. Beyond cannabis growing, he also taught himself motorcycle repair, garment production, battle-ax construction and year-round permaculture — all useful skills when you live off-grid somewhere in rural California near Yosemite National Park, as Jordan has done for 39 years. Through his self-driven study of cannabis growing, Jordan had seen hints of what the cannabis plant could do. And it was much, much more than everyone else involved with the plant seemed to know or care about. He’d seen the freaks and the weirdos — like the “dwarf plants” no more than three feet tall at maturity, or the plants producing buds on the petioles — and he’d seen what happened to them, discarded, weeded out in favor of something predictable.

“People just want something that’s huge and looks good,” Jordan explained to Cannabis Now via telephone.

Judging cannabis based on expedient looks — bag appeal, or grow-room appeal, whatever you call it — “is such a mistake,” he says. And yet, because of market pressures or because of prohibition, predictability became de rigueur.

With legalization looming six years ago, it also seemed there wasn’t much room for weird in the cannabis industry. Just more homogeneity, more conformity. Companies touted themselves as “the Apple Store of weed,” the “Uber for cannabis.” That meant, maybe, as a grower who’d never done more than “medical cannabis patient numbers,” there wasn’t much room for him. Considering that he’s a lifelong lover of sativas and other narrow-leafed tropical-bred cannabis plants working in an era that prized Afghan-ized broad-leafed indicas, maybe that was always the way.

Doubts, boredom and a looming exit were the shadows flickering on the wall of his mind when Jordan set to work on his latest breeding project. He was attempting to stabilize a particular terpene profile, crossing a mother bred from the strains Big Bud and Skunk #1, with a male plant stemming from Big Sur Holy Bud and Banana Kush, when the plant decided it was time to act out.

It was time to get weird. It was time for Freakshow to make its grand entrance.

In his decades growing, Jordan had already seen some phenotypes produce bizarre, out-of-the ordinary mutations. He says that it wasn’t too rare, but also not too normal, to see mutations in the leaves: serrated leaves so deep that they reminded him of a wood saw or alligator teeth. One of these phenos from the above-mentioned cross, however, produced not only deep serrations, but also extra leaflets — not two or three on top of the usual seven, but “a crazy amount of extras,” he recalled, enough to support a millipede. Intrigued and encouraged, Jordan did the opposite of what you’re “supposed” to do: He threw out all the normies and kept breeding the freaks. He sprouted hundreds of seeds — how many he can’t recall.

“I had never taken time to sit there and try to create a mutant,” he said. “But once I did, it was working… Maybe I got kind of lucky. You can say that for a fact.”

He can say that, because the fact is that a mutant appeared: A cannabis plant with serrated leaves so long they almost look like ferns. He named the plant Freakshow, which has leaves so long they almost look like the cannabis plant has developed arms, like the plant is trying to reach out and grab your attention, give you a hug, or smother you in its embrace.

“As a manipulator of cannabis genetics, [Freakshow] shows you how far we can take things.” — JORDAN

“When I first saw that, it was, ‘Oh man, what have I done?’” Jordan recalled. “That was the moment. I knew right then and there that nobody had ever seen this before.”

A quick Instagram search revealed he was right. Jordan’s son, active online, started circulating photos of Freakshow. Weedheads around the world reacted with disbelief and anger. Surely this was a hoax. Surely this was a Photoshop job. No plant looks like this.

More photos — several generations’ of Freakshow worth — revealed that, no, this was a real plant. Soon shock turned to awe turned to envy. Growers around the world wanted Freakshow for themselves. And now, they can have this rare cannabis in their collection, thanks to a chance encounter with Nathaniel Pennington, the founder and CEO of genetics outfit Humboldt Seed Company.

By the time he crossed paths with Pennington, Jordan had pulled off the other trick of a cannabis breeder: Having “discovered” Freakshow, he’d also “tamed” or domesticated it. He’d breed enough generations of the plant so that its genetics were stable, or stable enough so that when a Freakshow plant produced seeds, those seeds would also reliably produce more Freakshow. Meanwhile, Pennington was running a massive genetics search, what he called the phenotype hunt. He hadn’t yet heard of Freakshow — he was after some other genetics that Jordan had developed — but when Jordan’s kids approached him and told him about this really weird plant, Pennington was intrigued. At the next meeting, at a small cannabis cup event prior to the passage of Proposition 64, Jordan himself appeared — and brought with him a living example, a small Freakshow in a pot.

“Immediately a light went off,” Pennington said. “‘Oh my gosh,’ I said. This is the most unique thing I have ever seen in my life.”

Even better than the weird “random stubby leaves” is the fact that Freakshow actually produces nice buds. It’s also a tough plant, able to do well in regular garden conditions or on the darker side of a house, Jordan and Pennington say.

“It literally could be classified as brand new,” says Jordan. He’s already coined a term (and filed for a United States patent) to classify the plant: Not indica, not sativa — but cannabis monstra. He says it could be the genetic foundation for a whole new breed of plant, a style of ornamental cannabis that you’d pick up at your local nursery.
Classifying the plant, and clarifying whether it qualifies as a subspecies of cannabis sativa or something else, is a job for the nerds and the scientists. More pragmatically, just because a plant is weird and cool doesn’t mean it will “survive” in “the real world.” Even though Freakshow was available, would anyone want to buy it?

Freakshow had what you could call its coming-out party at the Emerald Cup in December 2019, and the results were promising.

“We had a line out of the door to the Great Pavilion,” Pennington said of the thirst for Freakshow seeds. “We had people fly in all the way from London.”

And there was Jordan, signing seedpacks from total strangers who came an awful long way to find the mad genius behind this really freaky pot plant.

Pennington doubts this is the first time Freakshow has appeared on Earth.

“To be honest, I think maybe nine out of 10 breeders have seen those funky weeds — and then immediately gotten those genetics out,” he said. “I think most are like, ‘Uh oh, what did I do wrong? I’m starting to see a mutant.’”

And Jordan himself tends to agree. In Freakshow, he sees echoes of some of the very first cannabis he ever saw. “The first Thai stick, back in the 1970s, had a lot of these small, little serrated leaves,” he says. Maybe the old sativas of his youth, the plants he always loved, decided to return in his hour of need?

Freakshow is neither indica nor sativa – it is cannabis monstra.

Metaphysics and magic aside, the science behind Freakshow — what produced it and how — is evolving in real time. Humboldt Seed Company hopes to publish studies on the strain, produced in concert with botany PhDs and other plant scientists, Pennington said. In the meantime, Jordan himself has some theories, some of which already seem like they’ll be borne out.

Epigenetics, he notes, is the study of how mutations occur not when DNA changes, but when various genes in the same genetic sequences are expressed or suppressed. Think of it as reaching (or suppressing) inherent potential, sometimes in response to stress, other times in response to chemical exposure or another intervention.

In plant biology, a gene called the KNOX1 affects the shape and length of leaves and shoots. Maybe Freakshow has a suppressed KNOX1 gene?

The Freakshow experience also underscores how cannabis breeding should be approached with a sense of urgency given that the commercial industry might be breeding itself “into a dead end,” Jordan notes. Other plants offer ominous warnings, should we bother to heed them. For example, commercial bananas — the standard yellow fruit that most humans not living in tropical climates consider to be “bananas” — weren’t a thing before 1960, when a fungus ravaged the flavorful Gros Michel banana strain and freaked-out banana growers replaced it with the supposedly hardier, less delicious Cavendish.

Jordan also wonders how much he’s in control of Freakshow, about what the untapped potential of the cannabis plant means for the future.

“It far outdid what I set out to do,” he said. “It made me realize, ‘Wow — as a manipulator of cannabis genetics, it shows you how far we can take things.’”

The post Freakshow! Weed Gets Weird appeared first on Cannabis Now.

REVIEW: Kaizen Extracts Cold Cure Rosins

The method you select while curing your rosin can have a vast effect on the flavor and consistency of your final product.

While warm curing is usually done at temperatures ranging from anywhere between 90 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit, cold curing is usually done in a sealed jar between the temperature of 40 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The jar is left sealed for anywhere between 24 and 72 hours.

Courtesy of Kaizen

Warm curing involves either putting rosin that has been heated into a glass jar after extraction, and then sealing, or heating the rosin after it has been placed into a sealed glass jar. This resting process allows the terpenes to begin to separate and even pool on the surface of the rosin. Those terpenes are then whipped back into the rosin, creating a badder-like consistency. The end product is the ideal consistency for dabbing or twisting up in a joint.

One of the advantages of the cold cure process is that it minimizes the amount of terpenes that are lost through evaporation. Because of this, this process is commonly used to preserve the flavor and smell of the terpenes. Rosin has seen a noticeable increase in popularity in the last year. As the market matures and more education is being done around extracts, it seems more and more brands are trying their hand.

Today, I had the opportunity to try two Cold Cure Rosin strains from Kaizen Extracts. Kaizen’s Cold Cure Rosins are manufactured in Monterey County, California by Cypress Manufacturing and can be found in dispensaries across the state.

Kaizen is a legacy brand in California; the brand has been processing some of the best material in California since the medical days and has always put out clean, quality extracts. Since his entry into the industry, Kaizen’s Founder Dan Yoo saw a need for clean cannabis for patients, and he has since been committed to manufacturing only the highest quality concentrates.

Kaizen has won multiple awards for its extracts and is considered to be among the finest extraction companies for those who appreciate high quality extracts. Visit the Kaizen Extracts website to access the store locator to find them at a dispensary in your area. 

The first Kaizen product that I sampled was the White Tahoe Gelato Cold Cure. This rosin is a beautiful combination of White Tahoe Cookies crossed with Gelato. As I cracked the fresh jar, I was immediately welcomed by the pungent aroma of sweet pine with a menthol-like finish. Even after I put the jar down, the stench lingered in my nose, and I could feel it begin to make my nose hairs tingle.

Taking my first look into the jar, I noticed a beautiful, champagne-blonde rosin that had a consistency of smooth badder. As the smooth, thick smoke began to fill my lungs and mouth, I immediately tasted the creamy funk of the gelato. The flavor continued and then evolved, as notes of pine coated the top of my mouth as I exhaled.

The effect set in almost immediately. The strain is relaxing and sedative; I first noticed my shoulders and face muscles start to retract and relax. Any anxieties I had started to slowly melt away as I, too, started to melt into the couch. So physically relaxing and mentally calming, this would be a great strain to smoke before heading off to bed. 

The next extract on the table was Kaizen’s Banana Royale, which was a delightful smoke. Banana Royale is a mouthwatering cross of Banana OG and Dairy Queen. The rosin has a very similar look to the While Tahoe Gelato, with a vibrant blonde color and a similarly badder-like consistency. On first smell, I picked up notes of ripe and candied bananas from the Banana OG.

The sweet banana smell was followed up by a creamy and almost nutty aroma, which added a delightful savory note to the finish. The candied-banana terps transferred directly into the flavor as the sweet, creamy Banana OG hit my tastebuds. The Dairy Queen (being a cross of Cheese and Space Queen) then added a fatty, peanut-like taste to the exhale.

This strain is uplifting and euphoric without being racey or overly stimulating. The effects then slowly shift to a sedative and cozy feeling. This strain pairs well with your end of day activities helping you unwind while reading a book or binging your favorite series. 

After taking the time to smoke and enjoy these products, I can confidently say that if you enjoy high quality and tasty cannabis extracts, you should check out Kaizen’s Cold Cured Hash Rosin. Dan and the team have stayed true to their word and continued to put out only the highest quality extracts. I look forward to seeing (and smoking!) what other interesting rosins the team from Monterey comes out with in the coming months and years.

The post REVIEW: Kaizen Extracts Cold Cure Rosins appeared first on High Times.

‘Our Industry is Collapsing’ Warn California Pot Leaders in Letter to Gavin Newsom

Five years into legal adult-use cannabis sales in California, and the industry is at “a breaking point.” Top cannabis industry insiders sounded the alarm as the industry teeters towards implosion amid impossible tax rates and other serious issues.

In a letter dated December 17, over two dozen cannabis executives warned California Governor Gavin Newsom, President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Speaker Anthony Rendon that the state’s cannabis industry is on the verge of collapse.

According to the letter, only major tax cuts and a rapid increase of retail operations can save the industry. Two-thirds of California cities lack dispensaries, since local governments authorize sales and production.

California is set to raise the cannabis cultivation tax next month—despite the Legislative Analyst Office estimating that the state will have a budget surplus of $31 billion next year. On January 1, 2022, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) will raise the state’s cannabis cultivation tax for dry-weight flower by almost five percent, raising it to a whopping $161 per pound, and over $10 per ounce. It’s this tax that is exceptionally difficult for farmers who cannot even break even. This was the reason California NORML sent out a warning about the tax hike last month.

The letter provides a solution for some of the immediate problems. Specifically, the industry leaders asked for three things that need to change in order for California’s legal cannabis industry to survive: an immediate lifting of the cultivation tax, a three-year holiday from the excise tax and an expansion of retail shops throughout much of the state.

“It is critical to recognize that an unwillingness to effectively legislate, implement, and oversee a functional regulated cannabis industry has brought us to our knees,” the letter reads. “The California cannabis system is a nation-wide mockery; a public policy lesson in what not to do. Despite decades of persecution by the government, we have been willing and adaptable partners in the struggle to regulate cannabis. We have asked tirelessly for change, with countless appeals to lawmakers that have gone unheard. We have collectively reached a point of intolerable tension, and we will no longer support a system that perpetuates a failed and regressive War on Drugs.” 

The current system “is rigged for all to fail,” they wrote.

High tax rates are pushing consumers back into the black market, where the tax-free cannabis is cheaper. “The opportunity to create a robust legal market has been squandered as a result of excessive taxation,” the letter said. “Seventy-five percent of cannabis in California is consumed in the illicit market and is untested and unsafe.” Some local governments took the issue into their own hands. San Francisco Board of Supervisors, for instance, unanimously approved a measure to temporarily suspend the city’s Cannabis Business Tax to fight illicit pot sales.

Once the higher cultivation tax rolls in, “most consumers are going to take off,” Darren Story of Strong Agronomy said during a conference call on December 17 with journalists and members of the media. Organizers are preparing for a January 2022 Boston Tea Party-inspired rally on the Capitol Steps in Sacramento to protest tax rates and other industry issues. “Forget the Boston Tea Party. Here comes the California Weed Tax Revolt,” read the headline of a The San Francisco Chronicle. The leaders represent nearly every sector of California’s cannabis industry.

The full list of industry leaders who signed the letter is listed below:

  • Alec Dixon, Co-founder of SC Labs 
  • Amy Jenkins, President of Precision Advocacy
  • Andrew DeAngelo, Co-founder of Harborside, California Cannabis Industry Association, Last Prisoner Project 
  • Conrad Gregory, President of CCIA Executive Board 
  • Dale Gieringer, California NORML Director 
  • Darren Story, Founder of Strong Agronomy
  • David Hua, CEO and Founder of Meadow
  • Dennis Hunter, Founder of CannaCraft 
  • Erich Pearson, Founder of SPARC farm and dispensaries
  • Ingrid Tsong, Independent Farmer and Co-founder of Beija Flor Farms 
  • Jacob Heimark, CEO and Co-founder of Plus Products
  • James Kim, CEO and Co-founder of STIIIZY
  • Jamie Warm, Co-CEO of Henry’s Original
  • Jeff Gray, CEO of SC Labs 
  • Jerred Kiloh, Owner of Higher Path dispensary and President of the United Cannabis Business Association trade group
  • Jigar Patel, Co-CEO, NorCal Cannabis Company
  • John De Friel, CEO and Co-founder of Raw Garden
  • Joshua Keats, Founder and Co-CEO of Henry’s Original
  • Karim Webb, CEO 4thMVMT
  • Kristi Palmer, Co-founder of KIVA Confections
  • Lindsay Robinson, Executive Director of California Cannabis Industry Association
  • Michael Ray, Founder and CRO, Bloom Farms 
  • Michael Zumpano, CEO of Versagenix
  • Flavia Cassani, Co-founder of Flow Cannabis Co.
  • Mikey Steinmetz, Co-founder of Flow Cannabis Co.
  • Nara Dahlbacka, Partner The Milo Group
  • Ray Landgraf, Founder and CEO of Island Cannabis Co.
  • Steve DeAngelo, Cannabis Rights Activist, Chairman Emeritus of Harborside Inc.
  • Vince C. Ning, Founder and Co-CEO of Nabis

Newsom spokeswoman Erin Mellon responded to the letter, and said in a statement that the governor supports cannabis tax reform and recognizes the current problems, while expanding enforcement against illegal sales and production. “It’s clear that the current tax construct is presenting unintended but serious challenges. Any tax-reform effort in this space will require action from two-thirds of the Legislature and the Governor is open to working with them on a solution,” Mellon said.

The letter ensures that state leaders understand the sense of urgency and the scope of the problem. “The solution to these issues and the possibility of saving this industry lies in your hands,” they wrote in the letter.

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