Learn To Marijuana Like a Pro While You’re on Virus Lockdown

If you are reading this, chances are you are hunkered down somewhere, like the rest of America, just wondering when or if civil society will rise above this gnarly virus and get back to normal. But after taking in just 30 seconds of the daily press conferences held by the White House, it is plain to see there isn’t much hope that day is coming anytime soon. Although President Donald Trump claims there isn’t a need for a national lockdown, and he’s even mentioned that he might let the country ditch all of this social distancing stuff to keep economies from tanking, many states have still instituted “stay at home” orders to keep the population at home.

It means that millions of people, just like you, are hanging around the house, bored out of their skulls. At first, it was sort of like an extended vacation, but now that you’ve cleaned all of your bongs, built a couple of new ones, and possibly even engineered a new cannabis strain called “Corona-B-Gone,” there isn’t much else to do until the government allows you to go back outside. We can sympathize. We are desperate for something, anything to keep us from going insane.

It’s like Nietzsche said, “a subject for a great poet would be God’s boredom after the seventh day of creation.” Only, it’s not quite like that at all, seeing as we must use the listlessness of the times as a way to rise about the crud once science quits messing around and squashes this bug once and for all. The only way to achieve that is through education, reflection and a little bit of fun. So, in the spirit of all that, we highly recommend the following reading material. Who knows, it may help you emerge on the seventh day (or 70th) a little wiser. You’ll definitely be more stoned.

Learn To Grow Cannabis

“Cannabis: A Beginner’s Guide To Growing Marijuana”

 Longtime High Times magazine cultivation editor Danny Danko has penned an “easy-to-use” cultivation guide for the person serious about growing weed. This 144-page document touches on the many facets of the cultivation process, from setting up a grow room to harvesting. 

“Marijuana Grower’s Handbook”

Let legendary cultivation expert Ed Rosenthal show you how to grow weed. In this book, Ed, with his more than 30 years of experience, teaches both beginner and advanced methods for producing healthy, potent plants in an indoor and outdoor situation. Commercial cultivation is also covered. This 500-page document, complete with color photos and illustrations, is one of the highest-rated in the field of cannabis cultivation, and probably one of the best introductions to growing weed on the market. 

Learn To Cook With Cannabis

“Bong Appetit” 

There isn’t much else to do during these apocalyptic times but get high and eat. This book by the folks at Munchies allows you to do both, going way beyond just whipping up a batch of pot brownies using a store bought mix. It’s an elevated journey into the art of cannabis cooking, providing the reader with all they need to know about making cannabis cooking oil and butter. It includes 65 “high-end” recipes from infused dinners to desserts. 

“The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook” 

One of the first books written on the subject of cannabis cooking is this one by Elise McDonough. It’s an old school guide to the cannabis infusion scene that comes with easy to follow recipes for appetizers, entrees and desserts. It’s hard to go wrong with the classics, folks. 

Learn To Make Cannabis-Infused Cocktails

“Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, & Tonics”

Drinking is also a welcomed activity during these dark days. This book by Warren Bobrow takes the cocktail up a notch by showing the reader a ton of recipes for combining cannabis and booze. It covers everything from the decarboxylation process (activating THC) to creating a variety of refreshing beverages. 

TELL US, what are you doing to pass the time?

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Pure Beauty Combines Aesthetics & Heart

Equipped with a pack of prerolled joints filled with premium herb, one feels more prepared for taking on the challenges of the day. In this regard, the dainty mini joints from Pure Beauty might make you feel like you’ve leveled up to gain more brightness and hope to project into a world filled with uncertain times. It’s the little things in life, as they say. 

Pure Beauty, which grows its cannabis in Sacramento, but based its company in Los Angeles, is an up-and-coming company that’s making noise in all the right ways. Their packaging is minimalist and sleek. On the website the video that plays flashes between a woman smoking a preroll to putting a fish back (?!) in the ocean and squashing grapes underfoot. It’s confusing and intriguing all at once. 

But the best part about this company is that not only does the cannabis inside taste exceptional, but Pure Beauty is also constantly trying to do its best to make sure what they are putting out into the world is sustainable. While they do utilize indoor cultivation, which is certainly not as eco-friendly as growing outdoors, they pull the water they use straight from the air using dehumidifiers and an HVAC system and the electricity is generated on site using microturbines. CEO and co-Founder Imelda Walavalkar explains that Pure Beauty even goes as far as to donate the soil they are using to public parks. 

“We are super particular about what we’re putting out there,” Walavalkar says of Pure Beauty’s flowers. “It’s just really good product that’s inside.”

The mini joints — Pure Beauty calls them babies (!) — come in packs of 10 in indica, sativa, hybrid or CBD. Pure Beauty’s working with strains like Mendo Breath and  Forbidden Lemon Glue. They’ve also got some classic flavors in their line-up such as Super Silver Haze and an Orange Burmese that pulls from the lineage of a Burmese landrace strain.

The mini joints are filled with whole flower and burn evenly. Because the joints come ready to go, they can easily be shared with friends. As a sign of the times,  each person could have their own smoke sesh down to the roach. The size makes them manageable because, as Walavalkar aptly says, “all iterations of trying to light a joint later just don’t work.”

Beyond what Pure Beauty is doing in terms of sustainably growing its flowers, the company is also launching plant-based packaging and, judging from the posts on their Instagram, saving the earth is looking quite sexy.

TELL US, have you smoked prerolled joints before?

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By Any Other Name

It takes a lot of chutzpah to claim a place. Alex Schutz knew that he was treading on hallowed ground when he named his cannabis business after Williams, a small town in Southern Oregon just over the border from California’s northernmost Siskiyou County. Williams has a long legacy of cannabis cultivation, much like its Emerald Triangle neighbors to the south, with a solid population of territorial growers who could contest such a name. But Schutz says he’s been in Williams for years, he’s growing cannabis genetics from a family who’d been in the town since the ’80s and he’s using natural inputs from the land itself, so why not?

“It’s a bold feeling to be claiming the Williams name and putting it first,” Schutz says. “But as the cannabis industry started to take hold in Oregon and we started to see what the consumers were buying and what they liked, we saw they were gravitating towards name brands that were trending and I didn’t have any — and I still don’t mess with them. What I grow are all Williams genetics and so I decided to name this company Williams Canna Co.”Schutz first made a name for himself in Oregon as a breeder in the medical marijuana industry through his company Supermodel Seeds. Today, more than many other breeders, he avoids working with trendy strains and phenotypes (you won’t find a Purple Punch or a Zkittlez in his lineup), but instead works with those more classic and obscure genetics — and focuses on growing the strains he has created with the most regenerative methods he can muster.

When it comes to farming in Williams, Schutz says the process of building his cannabis flower operation has always been about creating healthy soil using resources from the land itself.

“The more you recognize what is available to you in nature right next to you, the less you find yourself looking for things you don’t need,” Schutz says. “My goal is to bring absolutely nothing into the garden that didn’t come from our property next year.”

Today, Schutz says that Williams makes its own mulch and composts from decaying matter gathered from the land, grinds rocks into soluble phosphorous and potassium to use as fertilizer, and cultivates native plants to be harvested and used around the farm.

“This farm is my organism to play with and I’m making it as beautiful as I can with very little resources,” he says.

The work to breed and grow quality strains with regenerative inputs seems to be paying off, as Schutz says the company is increasingly recognized among “respected heads” in Oregon and wholesalers are willing to pay him twice what they did in the fall 2018.

However, these past few years in Oregon’s cannabis industry have not been easy going. After the state’s legal adult-use cannabis market launched in 2017, many farmers struggled in the face of a huge glut of flower, rock-bottom prices, and increased regulations and taxes. The state’s decades-old medical marijuana program slowly dwindled in the face of higher costs of entry for patients and producers alike.

In 2017, Schutz was unsure if he wanted to stay in the medical market or switch to the recreational side. But by the end of the 2019 season, he says he knows he made the right choice.

“We decided to go ahead and prove ourselves on the recreational market, and I was a little nervous having a menu of strains few people had heard of,” he says. But he has no regrets: “I couldn’t have asked for a better time to be in the rec game.”

Williams Canna Co. is currently growing F2s of Supermodel Seeds genetics, clones from the Humboldt Seed Company, inbred F1s, and “a whole host of generations of stable, deeply related, true-bred seed stock,” Schutz says.

In the future, the farm plans to conduct its own genotyping on-site with advanced testing machinery, which will allow it to greatly speed up its genetic projects.

“I’ve been trying to stay true to who I am and my mission in the industry and I’m not trying to rush to have genetic backcrosses that are feminized and that are cooked up from the same female plants,” he says. “I’ve been working slowly but surely on true-bred lines.”

This slowly-but-surely mentality applies to his cannabis cultivation practices as well, where he says the years of hard work on the land itself is allowing the cannabis to take care of itself, to burrow its roots more firmly in the ground.

“The more you establish your garden, the less work you have to do,” Schutz says. “The herb looks better than ever before. It’s unbelievable, I can’t believe it. It’s pushing the limits with how it can do everything on its own.”

TELL US, have you ever wanted to grow your own weed? What strain would you choose to start with?

Originally published in Issue 40 of Cannabis NowLEARN MORE

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No-Till’s Next Battleground

Enclosed within a small garage in Walnut Creek, California, rows of cannabis plants appear to be sleeping in the darkness. Joseph Snow uses a small, green-hued light to show me the grow setup inside. The plants have barely entered their first blushes of flowering, but the room is positively perfumed with uplifting fresh botanical bursts of cannabis. When Snow pulls off the fan leaves from some of the strains — Mirage, Gelato, GoTime — to view the leaves outside in better light, he encourages me to inspect the vibrant green hues and differencing jagged edges and leaf shapes. The base of each sugary fan leaf is already coated in resin and it’s wafting off fresh terps.

While modest in scale, this cannabis consultant’s grow has one thing about it that makes it very unique. Snow is cultivating indoor cannabis with a method of growing you’re far more likely to associate with an outdoor grow: no-till farming. Under the name Snowtill, he’s growing indoor cannabis in the same soil, year after year. In his homegrow setup, Snow’s using 4-feet-by-4-feet Grassroots fabric pots filled with soil, worms and a clover cover crop. After he harvests one pot, he leaves the stems and roots of the old plant in place and sows another cannabis plant by the old one’s side.

I didn’t know what to picture when I heard about the concept of a no-till indoor cannabis grow. After all, I thought, aren’t part of the benefits associated with improving the soil through not disturbing or tilling the earth created in symbiosis with other natural systems? What do the concepts of using cover crops and adding organic matter back to the soil have to do with growing inside, where cultivators often look to create their own optimal versions of the natural environment?  

But Snow made it clear that for him, growing indoor cannabis with a no-till style represents the best levels of both indoor and outdoor growing styles. Most importantly, he says, it produces some of the terpiest, frostiest buds he’s ever grown.

“Literally the resin production, the terpene production is so much stronger growing this way and I can only think that that’s because we’re merging the plant’s evolutionary biology with maximum environmental control,” Snow says.

Growers using this blend of indoor and outdoor methodology are encouraging others and, because they are essentially creating a hybrid method for cultivating the world’s most favored flower, they are communicating with each other to learn the way forward. Regenerative cannabis farming is having a moment, and, as it turns out, creating a biodiverse soil teeming with life appeals to both outdoor and indoor growers.

The Living Soil Movement 

Snow grew up in Israel and initially learned about the concept of “no-till indoor” through Mendo Dope, a pair of brothers who cultivate cannabis in Mendocino County and post grow videos and their own music on YouTube to millions of viewers worldwide.

Mendo Dope had taped a video of their visit to an indoor grow doing the no-till style, which piqued Snow’s interests. He had been learning about cannabis while getting a degree in psychology in Israel and had been inspired by the “super soil” mythology encouraged by Subcool, the cultivator behind TGA Seeds. Subcool, who passed away in February 2020, explained his optimal soil mix in a 2009 High Times article called “Subcool’s Super Soil Step by Step.” In the article, he says his soil mix, when blended with microbe-rich things such as bone meal, worm castings and bat guano, “leads to buds finishing with a smoother, fruitier flavor.”

“As with vegetables, a rich organic soil can bring out the best in cannabis,” Subcool wrote. “The plants aren’t green at harvest time, but rather purple, red, orange, even black — plus the resin content is heavier, and the terpenes always seem more pungent.”

Building “super soil” or “living soil” means using living organisms, such as worms, to create a nutrient-rich soil that can feed the plant without the need for unnatural additives.  

The indoor no-till method combines the use of organic nutrient-rich living soil like Subcool was promoting a decade ago with the philosophy of natural farming outdoors that was popularized in the 1970s.

The One-Straw Revolution

The One-Straw Revolution,” a book by Japanese farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka published in 1975, helps complete the picture behind the indoor no-till movement. The book promotes “do-nothing techniques,” sustainable practices that use the land to repair and replenish itself, including no-till farming.

Fukuoka’s book is one of Snow’s main inspirations, a list that also includes Mountain Organics, the alias of a cannabis grower who propagated the “no-till indoor” methodology on internet forums.

“I want people to understand [no-till indoor growing] because I think it will honestly make the world a better place if more people are adopting these types of cultivation methods for indoor cultivation,” Snow says.

He adds that, in a properly functioning no-till system, it’s actually easier for the indoor grower. 

“It cuts out a lot of the work at the end of the day, too, because you have all these things working for you,” Snow says. “I don’t need to add any nutrition, I just use water the entire cycle — cycle after cycle after cycle in the same medium of soil without ever breaking up the soil, mixing it or using any techniques like that.” 

(Strain: Crushed Berries)

Growing Great Ganja

If any of my original skepticism about indoor no-till cannabis remained, it disappeared when I tried some of the Snow’s pot. Buds from Snowtill are so frosty they’re almost unreal. Glassy and fragrant, a nug of Mirage has some of that ever-so-popular Tangie citrus, but with a fresh twist. Snowtill’s signature strain is GoTime, a cultivar which originated from a cannabis breeder called Jinxproof who took a Cheese x Sour Diesel cross named Norton and then crossed it with Jesus OG. Complete with a mix of citrus and fuel, GoTime is just about as dank as they come.  

 “We’re not here to say that we do it necessarily better than they do it outdoors, but there’s obviously some advantages and disadvantages with each method,” Snow says. “Some people say you get a better terpene profile in full-spectrum sunlight, I would say that you get a more resinous plant and a healthier plant to harvest by growing it indoors in a controlled setting.” 

Ultimately, Snow sees indoor no-till growing as a way to bring the lessons of outdoor to an indoor environment. Inside, the grower can control the inputs the plant is receiving and minimize the amount of pests and contaminants that could influence a plant’s growth.

“Some of those things that naturally we don’t have outside, that we need to bring indoors — that is what indoor no-till is all about,” Snow says. “It’s trying to mimic that outdoor setting inside, but at the same time maintaining a superior level of control over the final product.”

TELL US, have you ever seen an indoor cannabis grow?

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The No-Till Revolution

Josh Khankhanian walks barefoot through his Mendocino cannabis farm, pulling up pointed dark green leaves of comfrey and dropping them back on the soil. It’s the first day of October, which is an active time at any outdoor cannabis farm, but Khankhanian exudes an air of lucid calm as he decides which plants should be harvested today at Moon Gazer Farms.

Khankhanian’s walk takes him through tangled rows of beautiful cannabis in full flower, nestled around other plants, flowers and herbs. Comfrey, Jerusalem artichokes, bergamot, bog sage, holy basil, kale, fava beans, calendula and torch tithonia (also known as Mexican sunflower) all find a place among the farm’s raised soil mounds.

“Diversity is the big thing here, that’s why we have a lot of diverse kinds of plants,” Khankhanian tells me as we walk through the garden. “But even within the cannabis [on our farm], it’s as diverse as it can be. When you plant from seed, every plant is different.”    

PHOTO Claire Weissbluth

Moon Gazer Farms is the vision Khankhanian created with his wife and business partner, Sandra Khankhanian. By growing sustainable cannabis, the farm provides the pair with the means they need to live on their country homestead while raising their four-and-a-half month old twins Leo and David.

The farm’s cannabis crop comes in small batches, which can be as low as one or two pounds per strain per season or as high as 40 to 50 pounds, and every strain is grown from seed. While they do work with established genetics, Josh and Sandra also create their own strains from genetics they acquire from friends. Moon Gazer offerings include unique strains like Cherry Lemonade, an Athena Cherry Kush x Lemon Bliss cross, and Pinkle Jam, a Pinkleberry Kush x Jamaican Lions cross.

On my day in the garden, Josh and Sandra are joined by two young sisters with sunny dispositions and boundless energy who help with the children and the cannabis harvest. After I meet the crew, I duck among the rows of plants, pulling in the scent of fresh herb ready for harvest and marveling at the purple hairs on some of the buds. I pull a bunch of bergamot to make into a tea and I eat a lemon cucumber straight off the vine, taking in the clean crisp refreshment on the warm day. Later, I share a joint with the crew under the shade of a tree and the whole scene feels both idyllic and purposeful. Sandra tells me this is the place where she is supposed to be.

“We’re pot farmers,” she says. “I love weed, I smoke weed, this is what she wants me to do. You know? This is what we want to do together. This is our collaboration.”

Hügelkultur for Herb

Josh, who is originally from Los Angeles, and Sandra, who is originally from Michigan, met on a goat farm in Israel in 2010. They started their lives as farmers in California’s Mendocino County on a biodynamic vegetable farm and married in 2016, which is the same year they moved to their current property and started to grow cannabis, first as medical providers and then, following the opening of California’s recreational cannabis marketplace in 2018, for adult-use sales.

When it comes to their farming practices, Josh and Sandra pull a lot of inspiration from Jesse Dodd, the grower behind the Arcata-based cannabis project Biovortex. With Biovortex, Dodd promotes regenerative cannabis agriculture, which is defined as farming practices that rebuild soil and restore biodiversity. To spread the word, Dodd created a Regenerative Cannabis Farm Award that was first presented at the Emerald Cup, the premiere event for outdoor cannabis, in 2016.

Moon Gazer, which ended up winning the Regenerative Cannabis Farm Award in its inaugural year alongside Green Source Gardens and Dragonfly Earth Medicine, grows most of its cannabis with the hügelkultur technique, which involves creating a mound with decaying wood and filling it with compostable materials to create a rich soil.

“Hügel is basically like a lasagna layer of different things,” Josh explains. “We’ll layer some logs first, preferably oaks because they break down real nice — fungal life really likes the oaks — and then we’ll layer it with straw and material from our goat barn.”

These raised soil beds mean that Moon Gazer is a “no-till” cannabis farm, because the soil is not disturbed, instead it is built upon itself year after year. Proponents of no-till farming say that it helps protect soil from erosion, traps moisture in the soil and improves the health of soil microorganisms.

“It’s mostly just layering carbon,” Josh says. “We’re able to grow this way and be sustained because we’re growing on a small scale. To me, it’s super ideal to do this no-till system where we literally are not tilling the soil, we’re not disturbing the soil at all, we’re just layering. I like to say we’re giving back always to the earth, we’re not doing any disturbance.”

While there are still some plants planted directly into the soil at Moon Gazer Farms, most of the approximately 150 plants of about 30 different strains grown from seed are now planted in these layered beds.

“We love Hügels, we’re going to keep building Hügel,” Sandra says. “Actually somebody thought we should name one of the boys ‘Hügel’… [Hügelkultur] is about using what you have, which is what we’re all about.” 

Choppin’ & Droppin’ 

A big part of growing cannabis in a regenerative manner involves creating a rich soil from elements sourced on the land. That means Moon Gazer often uses their other crops to support the soil that feeds their cannabis. “The comfrey is a really big aspect of our fertility program,” Josh says of the leafy shrub, which has been noted for its medicinal properties as far back as 400 BCE. “Our goal as a regenerative farm is to be as closed loop as we can be. So we’re not bringing in inputs from the store, we’re not buying liquid fertilizer. These comfrey and other plants like nettles, they’ve got tons of nice micro-nutrients and macro-nutrients too.” 

Comfrey, which Josh explains can also be brewed into a tea and poured directly onto the cannabis plant’s roots, provides the soil with nutrients such as potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. It is an excellent plant in terms of its ability to regenerate, so it’s pulled up regularly.  

“We’ll go through a few times a season, we’re choppin’ and droppin’,” he says. 

Function Stacking 

Josh explains that under the biodynamic growing style, certain plants are great “function stackers,” meaning they fill many roles on the farm at once. For example, the Jerusalem artichoke is a root vegetable the family can eat, it has flowers to feed and attract pollinators, it provides a biomass that goes into building the soil and it can serve as food for the goats. At Moon Gazer Farms, the goats are often put to use on the cleanup crew. 

On the day of my visit, Josh invites me to help with the harvest and I put on gloves and grab some trimming shears and break down a Sapphire Sue, a strain rich in CBD. I trim off the branches by finding the natural y-shaped hooks that the sections will be hung to dry from. Then, I join others in the garden to “big leaf” the crop, or remove the large fan leaves. Once I fill a bucket with the leaves, I bring them over to the goat enclosure, where the goats are ecstatic for their mid-afternoon snack. While I watch the goats munch on fresh weed leaves, I note the silhouette of the moon against the last of the day’s light. Back in the garden, Josh is humble and says he’s growing all of this amazing outdoor herb “following the rhythm and cycles of the moon and the photoperiod of the sun.”

“Really,” he says, “what we do is we grow the soil and the plants grow themselves.”

TELL US, have you ever seen cannabis growing outdoors?

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The Price of Advocacy

Nobody likes to hear “I told you so” ringing in their ears. But today, as California’s small cannabis farmers face increasing challenges in the legal industry, the sneering refrain practically echoes down the redwood canyons of the Emerald Triangle, its four cutting syllables carried in each morning with the fog.

For Casey O’Neill, who has one of the most public and outspoken advocates for a small-farm-friendly version of cannabis legalization since 2014, the “I told you so” carries a particular punch. He is a native son of Mendocino County, raised on a homestead north of Laytonville where he still lives, farming vegetables and cannabis on the land with his partner Amber and their family. He’s seen the harsh nature of the government. Law enforcement stormed his parents’ house before his third birthday over a few cannabis plants, and when he was older and working as a cannabis grower, he was swept up in a raid and served two months in county jail.

(Casey O’Neill stands in the HappyDay Farms garden.)

But by the time California started to seriously consider cannabis legalization in the 2010s, O’Neill believed it was a good idea. Legal pot, he thought, was a great way to support small farmers and California’s rural economies and keep people out of prison. He still trusts in this vision. Where he thinks he might have been wrong, in retrospect, is in judging the government’s ability to actually execute those policies.

“I went in with this possibly naïve idea that we were going to construct a regulatory paradigm that was built around small businesses — and we came f*cking close, that’s the devastating part,” O’Neill says. “I invested significant time, energy and faith in a governmental process and then had that faith shattered. And now, all of the old hippies are like, ‘I f*cking told you so. You f*cking thought they were going to play fair?’ It’s really disenchanting.”

Fighting for the Right to Farm

The year 2016 may feel like 10,000 lifetimes ago, but it’s worth remembering that before California passed its adult-use cannabis legislation, it was extremely rare for cannabis growers to speak proudly and openly about their craft in the halls of power. O’Neill was one of the handful that stepped forward.

As a board member for the Emerald Growers Association, O’Neill spent the mid-2010s speaking in front of the Mendocino County supervisors and to state legislators in Sacramento about how cannabis legalization could be a crucial lifeline for small farmers. In his straw hat, skin roughed by the sun, and cotton work clothes, O’Neill made the case over and over that cannabis growers were simply small farmers that needed support.

“For Amber and I, for quite a long time we were almost like the funny stepchildren. We didn’t really fit with the food farmers because we were cannabis farmers, and vice versa,” O’Neill says. “The central focus of advocacy for me has been to break down that false bifurcation.”

(Amber O’Neill tends to plants in the drying room at HappyDay Farms.)

O’Neill spent his youth farming only cannabis, but after his 2008 arrest for growing, he switched to farming vegetables in 2009.

“When I was going through my court case, I realized: I’m a monocrop farmer and I just lost my crop,” O’Neill says. “I had some cogitation around what I want my future to look like and I started to look at food farming.”

He took a few courses on farming vegetables and fertilizers before he began serving time, and in jail, had a job working in the jail garden and read as many books on organic farming as he could from the jail library.

“The running joke is that my friends say, ‘It seems you were effectively rehabilitated,’” O’Neill says with a laugh.

In 2010, the state of California took its first big swing at legalizing cannabis with Proposition 19. At the time, the terms of O’Neill’s probation kept him from cultivating cannabis and he didn’t take much of a public stance on the issue. The effort ultimately failed, with all three Emerald Triangle counties voting against the proposition.

Then in 2014, a coalition including California’s police chiefs sponsored a cannabis regulation bill, SB 1262. The state’s medical cannabis industry despised it. O’Neill, who had gotten off probation and formed a medical marijuana collective in 2013, started advocating against it — and for a vision for legalization that included bringing California’s thousands of underground cannabis farmers into compliance.

“In 2014, the police chief sponsored a bill in the state legislature that would have licensed 30 farms in the state,” he says. “It was a de facto lockout for our whole community. That was what really got us organized.”

He worked as the secretary of the Emerald Growers Association and a board member of the Mendocino Cannabis Policy Council. He hosted events, talked to lawmakers, and helped cannabis advocates come up with a plan for small-farmer-friendly cannabis legalization.

“Every other industry sends lobbyists to tell government how to think, so finally as an industry, we are realizing if this is how it works in America, we are going to have to play ball,” O’Neill told the Associated Press in 2015, before he and other members of the Emerald Growers Association went off to lobby assemblymembers in Sacramento.

After months of work at the state level, Proposition 64 was born: a plan to legalize cannabis with regulations coming from the Department of Agriculture, no cap on licenses, appellations and tiered licensing. 

“And we were successful,” O’Neill says. “Coming out of 2015, we thought ‘Wow this is going to work! Holy sh*t!’”

In November 2016, California voted to pass Prop. 64. All three counties of the Emerald Triangle voted in favor, though by small margins. But O’Neill says the vision for small farmers only partially achieved.

“On the one hand, it has worked. I am here. The state has been here and inspected this farm and we’re legal,” says O’Neill. “On the other hand for so many other farmers, it didn’t f*cking work.”

And this discrepancy has been challenging for O’Neill to come to terms with.

“It’s so bittersweet. To feel both that I’ve been tremendously successful and a total f*cking failure at the same time is one of the most potent dichotomies of my life,” he says.

So what went wrong?

The State’s Plan for Pot

I visited O’Neill one warm autumn day on his family’s homestead, HappyDay Farms, in the hills outside of Laytonville. As he watered vegetable sprouts in a hoop house, O’Neill rattled off examples of how differently California regulates vegetables versus adult-use cannabis.

From the price of scales to cottage licenses, it boils down to two main issues: cannabis involves mountains more paperwork and bundles more cash.

HappyDay Farm’s permit to sell vegetables costs $25 a year, O’Neill says. Its permit to sell cannabis from Mendocino County costs $675, plus a $1,300 application fee, plus $2,410 for a permit from the state government, plus $1,800 to the state water board, plus $625 to the Department of Fish & Wildlife, plus $750 for its rainwater collection pond — and we haven’t even gotten to taxes yet.

“It’s not even nickel and diming me, it’s hundred and two hundred-ing me,” O’Neill says.

“It’s a classic example of regulatory creep in which a given populace with very little political power runs up against a regulatory development process in which every agency is excited and waiting to do things they aren’t allowed to do with the agricultural industry because their lobby is too strong,” O’Neill says, breaking down the issue with his trademark mix of political verbosity and casual profanity. “It’s like the state is saying to us, ‘We’re going to f*ck you guys up.’ It’s been really frustrating. I’ve been an advocate of sensible regulations and at every step of the way they’re pushing back and saying, ‘No, not really.’”

HappyDay Farms isn’t a large operation. It’s tucked on a sun-splattered hillside, with terraces that O’Neill and his family built in 2012 and rocky soil they’ve been carefully building up for years with compost and perennialized plants.

With the base cost of running a cannabis farm so high, the state has essentially forced cannabis farmers to work on a large scale in order to meet those costs. To combat this big-ag-favoring paradigm, O’Neill is advocating for a cottage license for cannabis farms with less than 2,500 square feet of cannabis canopy that includes an exemption from all regulations except testing.

“We fought really, really hard for a cottage license in the cannabis industry, so they made a cottage license,” O’Neill says. “But with cottage food production, a cottage license means that you are exempt from a lot of regulations. With cottage cannabis licenses, it’s just a nice name.”

Notably, California put forth cannabis regulations after Prop. 64 that don’t prohibit people from stacking multiple cottage licenses together to make a large grow. Perhaps most controversially, the regulations also do not include the acreage cap that state law mandated, which would have kept cannabis farms below one acre until 2023.

O’Neill also takes issue with the state’s track-and-trace system (“It’s the dumbest time-suck nightmare stupidest thing in history period.”) and the state’s general attitude that cannabis growers are presumed to be criminals from the outset and must be tightly regulated (“It’s like ‘Star Wars’: ‘The more you tighten your grasp, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.’”).

Plus, in 2019, the state of California started ramping up enforcement actions against those farmers who hadn’t joined the legal cannabis industry yet.

“There’s the talking point that people chose not to get a permit and now they have to pay some consequences,” says O’Neill. “The assumption of choice in the matter is where the real travesty occurs. If you build a system that locks people out and then you blame them for not participating in that system, that’s social injustice.”

These farmers, who haven’t signed up for the paperwork and the taxes and the regulations, have good reason to mistrust the state. They too fear hearing “I told you so.”

Hope Springs Eternal

For about an hour, O’Neill has been walking me around the farm. We’ve been working our way slowly up and down the terraced hillside, stopping to smell the massive colas of Glueberry, Great Success, Ogreberry and other exceptional strains HappyDay has finishing in the autumn sun. It’s a jarring juxtaposition: Beautiful scenery, depressing conversation.

But even the conversation itself contains multitudes: O’Neill is quick to laugh, quick to empathize, quick to pepper quips into a dark realization. We’ve talked ourselves in circles about O’Neill’s history advocating for cannabis and about the impact he’s had, what it means, whether or not it’s been positive. And on each topic, we’ve returned again and again to a dialectic understanding that the good and bad are simultaneously true.

“It’s always both,” O’Neill says. “The truth lies in between.”

For O’Neill, a farmer who has made regenerative practices the backbone of HappyDay’s work and his own advocacy, it comes back to the land.

“The thing to me in terms of advocacy around the regenerative movement is look, we all are where we are,” he says. “We’re all trying to figure out how to get to some as-yet-undefined better. Every year, we make strides in that direction. We try and lower inputs, lower our carbon footprint, we try and sequester more carbon so we’re offsetting our footprint. But there are inevitable compromises, like keeping our rabbits in cages.”

With improving as a farmer and a human, while asking the state to improve as an advocate, O’Neill has taken a nuanced approach to the idea of progress.

“You try to make measurable gains and measurable steps in the right direction each year,” he says. “You get better in your practices, you learn more, and that’s life.”

TELL US, are you an advocate for marijuana?

The post The Price of Advocacy appeared first on Cannabis Now.

It Takes The Village

When people talk about California’s legendary cannabis, they frequently mention growing ganja grown deep in the Emerald Triangle and weed sparked up on the bustling streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco. But there’s another region in the Golden State that is now demanding attention. Since California’s adult-use cannabis market came online in 2018, Sacramento has exploded onto the scene as a hub of top-shelf indoor cultivation.

Few people in town — perhaps only Gov. Gavin Newsom — have helped push Sacramento to the top of the cannabis stratosphere more than its cultivators, who are growing some of the best cannabis in the world. But in recent years, one local cultivator has pushed the envelope so far that everyone else in town (and across the state) is now growing the genetics he’s helped curate and breed.

As half of Symbiotic GeneticsThe Village finds himself among a small group of cultivators giving Sacramento’s cannabis a global reach. At one point, there was so much of his Mimosa strain being grown in town, you could have mistaken Sacramento for the brunch capital of the world.

Today, The Village and his breeding partner Budologist are at the top of Hype Mountain. Here is the full story of how he went from budtender to championship breeder leading the City of Trees into the future.

Village Foundations

(Strain: Banana Punch)

The Village got his start working in 2010 at a medical marijuana dispensary called South Sacramento Care Center for about a year and a half, back in the looser days of California’s medical marijuana market.

“I budtended, I vended, it kind of helped me know what was good and what was bad on quality standards,” he told Cannabis Now.

When SSCC started their cultivation project in 2011, he knew that was exactly where he wanted to focus his passion for cannabis. He spent a year at the bottom of the ladder as the grunt worker.

“I actually lived at the warehouse for four years and I think that really helped me learn a lot as well. Just being there all the time,” he said.

The Village spent the first year following orders. Leaf picking and changing reservoirs were common activities. Eventually, as he spent more and more time caring for the plants, he picked up on what he believed to be some flaws in the cultivation process. 

“I was reading like crazy on all the online forums, just trying to figure out everything,” he said. “I lived there and I didn’t have a life.” The Village guessed he would go into the grow room about 20 times a day back then.

Not long after, he took over the whole cultivation facility. Speaking to how he got his nickname, he said that the SSCC workers started calling the facility “The Village.”

“It was just a code word,” he said. “Instead of saying ‘Hey, we’re going to the grow,’ we’d say we were going to the village.”

The Start of Symbiotic Genetics

A big part of The Village’s program in the early years was being the caregiver for numerous patients and growing them a monthly supply of marijuana. He helped supply about a pound of cannabis a month for free to over 15 patients selected to be a part of their compassion program.

“We wanted to have them testify if anything ended up in court, but if it were in federal court it wouldn’t even matter,” The Village said. “I thought it was really cool when we started pushing CBD for them once I got a hold of a couple of cuts.”

The Village noted that well before he started going public with his brand, he was working with solventless hash enthusiast and medical producer Matt Rize. When Rize would post hash he washed from cannabis provided by The Village, he would list him as a private grower, allowing him to stay anonymous despite the good reputation the product earned.

(Strain: Banana Punch)

“Me and him had a year or two where we were dropping insane ice wax,” The Village said.

Strains like Tangie and Sour Diesel were a hit with everyone lucky enough to score some.

“In LA we dropped Tangie for $200 a gram, and it sold out. We only dropped 10 or 20 grams, but the hype was real, and it was crazy,” he said.

At this point, The Village still hadn’t even started breeding, he was just networking and growing like crazy. He met ET Extracts around that time. ET connected him with Budologist, The Village’s eventual partner in crime at their award-winning breeding collaboration, Symbiotic Genetics. Budologist had a Pennywise cut he received from Geek Mike that The Village was keen to add to his stable.

“We eventually met up and I got the cut, and we became friends at that point,” The Village said. “Three or four months later, he went ahead and asked [the breeder behind] Supernova Gardens if he could give me the Purple Punch cut.”

Drink it In: The Rise of Mimosa

A couple of years after they met in 2013, Budologist approached The Village about starting the breeding project that would become the renowned Symbiotic Genetics. Budologist planned to find a Purple Punch male that shared as many traits as possible with the prized Purple Punch female phenos and go from there. After another round of blessings from Supernova, the two built out a two-light breeding room.

“It was in the seeds from the original batch that [Supernova] found the clone-only cut,” Budologist said. “Basically as soon as he gave me the seeds, it gave me the idea I wanted to do breeding. I knew I should pop the seeds and find a male to cross with  the female Purple Punch.”

Before going on to stabilize Purple Punch in the room and provide seeds to the masses, the first breeding projects featured a Cookies and Cream male Budologist selected. The first crosses in the room — which, don’t worry, would eventually pump out champions — were Cookies and Cream x Forum Cookies and Cookies and Cream x Animal Cookies.

“Those didn’t work out because we had a lot of [hermaphrodites], and then we started the Punch project right after that,” The Village said. “We stayed in that two-light room for a while. Then once the Punch took off, when we dropped it, we were like ‘Dang, we don’t make enough seeds.’”

It would end up being roughly two years to get the seeds of the Purple Punch ready after the initial wave of excitement caused by the flower.

They dusted the original elite Purple Punch clone with a male, and then popped 150 seeds. In the process of the Punch propagation, about half of them were males. From the remainder, they narrowed the larger pack down to three of their favorites.

“We flowered them out completely. Males, when they’re really towards the end of flower, they’ll start putting off resin. You can actually rub that resin. The smell is like what a female would smell like,” Budologist said. He also noted that resin will smell just as strong as the resin from a female plant. “You can get that sense of what the terps are.”

To get down to the three males, they selected phenotypes based on the quality of the bud structure and by picking the ones that had the strongest flavor reminiscent of the female Purple Punch. The seeds from that exceptionally bred Purple Punch hit the wider market in 2017.

The Symbiotic team also crossed the best male with five females, including LA Confidential, Clementine and Tangie.

On one fateful day in 2017, The Village and Budologist named the Purple Punch x Clementine cross “Mimosa.” In the years since it was released, Mimosa has been seen on podiums and winners’ lists across the country.

“It just feels really good,” Budologist said. “It’s a great thing to see your creation doing well all over the place. It’s definitely something that even if people haven’t heard of Symbiotic Genetics, they’ve heard of Mimosa.”

The Village says it’s the team’s most famous strain to this day.

Building a Global Breeding Project

Looking towards the future, the Symbiotic Genetics team is building out a new state-of-the-art breeding facility in Sacramento. They also want to get Budologist up to the capitol city full time, so he doesn’t have to continue his two-hour commute to participate in the collaboration. Budologist has been working in the corporate world for 12 years as he’s simultaneously pursued his plant passion, but he says it is “a dream come true” to transition full-time to cannabis breeding.

“The plan is to get him here, and build an amazing breeding space with multiple rooms,” The Village said. “Then, we’ll have a pheno-hunting room and a testing room so we can fully test our genetics and not have to send them out to people.”

We asked The Village how many times the best phenotype of any given strain had been found by one of the testers he gifted the strain to. He could only think of two occasions where the genetics made their way back to him.

“PureMelt gave me his Mimosa pheno. He gave me the Mimosa pheno Exotic Genetix used in their Strawberry line,” said The Village. “It says Strawberry and Cookies and Cream, but actually, it’s Mimosa and Cookies and Cream. It’s a strawberry-dominant pheno of Mimosa. PureMelt won fourth place at the 2017 Emerald Cup with that one.”

Strains from Symbiotic Genetics also took two spots in the top 10 of the personal sungrown cannabis category at the Emerald Cup, the premier competition for Northern California cannabis where many cultivators sell their seeds, in 2018. Their Cherry Punch genetics placed third and Mimosa placed fourth. Now the plan is to produce a lot more seeds. The plan for the new facility is to be able to work with four to five different males at any given time, instead of just the one they previously had the room for.

“We’ll have multiple things going. It will kind of be like the Seed Junky approach where you’re just dropping tons of new genetics all the time,” The Village said. “We’re still going to do the whole approach of testing before we release anything. So that’s going to slow us down, but once we get stuff stacking, it’s going to be releasing fast. I’m hoping every six months we’ll have a new line.”

The essential shift now occurring within Symbiotic Genetics is that its two leaders are no longer thinking about cannabis breeding as a hobby.

“We feel like the sky’s the limit once we have the financial backing, once we have the space to work the types of things we can do,” said The Village. “We created Mimosa and all these strains with two lights in a small-*ss room.”

The potential was more evident than ever at last year’s Emerald Cup. People traveled from places like Argentina, Spain and Brazil just to get their hands on Symbiotic’s prized seeds.

Currently, The Village is sitting on over 70 cuts for when things go into full gear, including some of his own phenos and some of the GMO and WiFi Mints other people have given him. He said he’d most like to add to his collection “those old OGs you kind of don’t see — they’re hard to get verified.”

Over the years, The Village said he has gotten his hands on things he thought were old school OG cuts, but they never were what was claimed.

“I have the Legend, Paris, the Lemon Fuel from Alien Labs,” he said. “I mean I could be totally wrong, but they all seem like there’s not a big difference between those three.”

His theory is that OG is so finicky that it needs a much different environment compared to other strains in order to express its full character.

“I think OGs express themselves more if you keep it a little warmer,” he said. “If you don’t, it stays in a state where it’s unexpressed. So they kind of look the same, but they’re not fully able to push out the characteristics of what they are. So that’s my kind of thing.”

Other targets for the collection include Chem 91 and Super Silver Haze.

“There’s a lot of new stuff I think is amazing, but I’d like to go back to the roots,” The Village said. He added that this emphasis on old-school cannabis is why Symbiotic Genetics recently pollinated an bunch of different females with a Kombucha male (a cross of Sour Diesel and a Purple Punch F2) featuring the old-school diesel flavor. “That’s why we did the Kombucha line, to bring the Sour Diesel back in a new kind of way,” he said. “Our male we selected was very diesel-dominant.”

Capital in the Capitol

Like many other cultivators who have been growing cannabis in California since before the 2018 adult-use regulations came down, The Village has been struggling to adapt to the new Golden State. In early 2019, The Village’s old facility was shut down — right before he was preparing to do a giant Banana Punch propagation — because he hit a licensing snafu around the old building.

“I mean, it sucks,” The Village said. “There are a lot of people that are being held back because of licensing. It’s just so new to everyone. We’re all learning and some of the cities are easier than others.”

The Village says a lot of people already had grows that were dialed in to fit the state’s tight restrictions. But permitting a space you’ve already been using is hard. “Most of the time you give [the state’s cannabis regulators] plans and they approve it. Well, now you’re giving them plans that are already built, so if they don’t approve it, then you essentially have to shut down to make those changes,” he said.

The Village and Budologist knew they didn’t want to do a patchwork job and decided they were just going to do a complete rebuild of the facility instead of a smaller remodel. They’re now on the hunt for a partner to help fund the effort.

“We could have done it ourselves, but it would have been cutting corners because we don’t have the capital that you need to build one of these facilities,” The Village said.

The Village recognizes certain challenges of the legal market, “but we’re not living in the shadows. When I lived at the warehouse I was very fearful of getting raided. It was scary. But now I guess the only thing you have to worry about is thieves.”

And those plotting against the Sacramento cannabis industry have been a major concern as of late. Due to the cannabis industry’s lack of banking access, dispensaries are forced to horde large piles of cash to pay taxes. All this money has proven too tempting, and with Sacramento’s rise to cannabis prominence, it became an even bigger target.

The Village says it’s particularly bad at the moment. At the end of the summer in 2019, one of the dispensaries he works with got hit by thieves, and numerous farms have been targeted, too. One night, two different facilities were hit. One dispensary lost $37,000 in four minutes.

Despite the rough nights, things are generally going well for Sacramento’s cannabis scene. Its cultivators continue to travel up and down the state’s highways, returning with every trophy in the game. And when the Cannabis Cup visited Sacramento for the first time as a legal event in 2018, locals stole the show.

“Sacramento is awesome,” Budologist said. “I think there is a lot of competition, which I think is the best thing because competition makes you work harder.”

He believes Sacramento’s population is open enough not to look down on the industry. “It’s definitely something people aren’t as embarrassed about, you know?” he said.

While the short term has a bit of mystique to it, The Village, Budologist and their work at Symbiotic Genetics are not going anywhere. We look forward to continue watching them push the bar when it comes to exciting new cannabis genetics.

TELL US, have you tried the Mimosa strain?

Originally published in Issue 40 of Cannabis NowLEARN MORE

The post It Takes The Village appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Nappy Dread

With a new cannabis renaissance dawning, more and more people are making moves to put the plant front and center as a way to build a more sustainable and just future. Meanwhile, an estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers end up in landfills across America annually (according to the folks at RealDiaper.org). Clearly, it was only a matter of time before the worlds of pot and poop collided.

Enter Billie Wonder, a Dutch retailer providing eco-friendly and adorable washable diapers and training pants to the masses made from green materials such as organic cotton, bamboo and yes, hemp. The company features both an online shop and brick and mortar showroom in Amsterdam, and is aiming to spread awareness of the benefits of reusable diapers while simultaneously working towards creating the world’s first nappy made completely from cannabis.

“I think hemp is the plant of the future in many, many ways, but also when it comes to diapers,” explains Amsterdam native Steef Fleur, co-founder of Billie Wonder, which means “little bottom miracle” in Dutch.

Fleur, an urban developer-turned-photographer-turned-entrepreneur, may have grown up in a country known for its tolerant stance on so-called “soft drugs” such as marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, but it took spending time away from coffeeshop culture to truly understand cannabis and the multitude of powers it may possess.

( Steef Fleur (left) and her business partner Manon Klosterman join their children in sorting their line of reusable diapers.)

A Seed Is Planted

Despite growing up in Amsterdam, Fleur had no idea what a pot plant looked like up close until visiting a friend who had moved to California’s Emerald Triangle. A two month stint in the Humboldt hills turned into a successful photography career and a lifelong passion for the plant.

“It opened my eyes very much to the possibilities of the plant, because here [in the Netherlands] although everybody thinks we’re super liberal, we’re super narrow-minded when it comes to cannabis,” Fleur said.

It was also during a trip to California when Fleur first discovered washable diapers, something that was nearly unheard of at the time in her native country. After spending time studying informal settlements in Brazil during her university career, Fleur understood the dire need to decrease landfill waste. She committed immediately to embracing reusable diapers should she ever be blessed to become a mom.

“Not very long after, I got pregnant,” she laughed.

Two Babies and a Business

Fleur started Billie Wonder alongside her friend and officemate Manon Klosterman, a Brazillian-born accountant who was due to have her own bundle of joy only months apart from Fleur. The two had begun researching washable diapers only to come up short.

“What we were missing is a place where you can actually go to and ask your questions about reusable diapers,” Fleur said. “I also realized that the imagery that exists around the product right now is a little old-fashioned, and I believe an old-fashioned product actually gets confirmed by the imagery that exists.”

Utilizing sleek and modern photography mixed with an inviting user experience, the Billie Wonder website was designed with the busy mom in mind. Deciding which washable diaper makers to partner with, however, meant getting down and dirty with any potential products.

“That was the good thing about starting it straight away,” Fleur says. “We would just buy sh*tloads of new brands and put them on our children!”

From the Bottom to the Top

With her photography background, Fleur set out to change the perception of reusable diapers in Europe and beyond. Her time documenting the cannabis culture in Humboldt however, is what has Billie Wonder’s sights set even higher. Knowing hemp is easier on the environment to grow than cotton — while also being an overall more absorbent material — the company has applied for and received subsidies from the Dutch government to develop a diaper made from 100% hemp.

“The structure of hemp is still a little bit too rough to use by itself in diaper material. The fashion industry is having troubles with this as well,” she laments, adding the initial government partnership inquiry will last until the spring of 2020.

Despite the daunting research ahead of them, the duo behind Bille Wonder are encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response to their business. In addition, Fleur is expecting baby number two this winter, marking a new chapter in the company’s history.

“We curated [our collection] on our kids. They’re both potty-trained now, but we have a new one coming that we can test the hemp on next year!”

TELL US, are you a parent who has tried reusable diapers?

Originally published in Issue 40 of Cannabis NowLEARN MORE

The post Nappy Dread appeared first on Cannabis Now.

CBD Company Pivots to Hand Sanitizer

Sam Belanger runs a CBD company, and is well aware that CBD is no longer the hottest product on the market. Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, hand sanitizer might hold that title and like nearly everyone else on earth, Belanger couldn’t find any.

Belanger is the COO and co-founder of Green Ridge Biosolutions, a CBD company based in Ronan, Montana. Since opening for business, the company, which makes CBD oils, topicals, and healthcare products, found that it ran through a fair bit of alcohol-based germ-killer during normal operations — and since the coronavirus pandemic widened, there was simply no more to be found on the commercial market.

So after a brief conversation with the company chemist, Green Ridge decided to start making its own, and is now supplying hand sanitizer to customers in multiple states as well as donating the badly needed stuff to local healthcare workers and first responders, the Missoulian reported.

The company’s been manufacturing and distributing its very own line of hand sanitizer — donating for free to health-care workers and police, and selling “at cost” to the general public in person and online — for the past week, according to the newspaper.

Green Ridge’s pivot is a good-citizen turn, but it’s also a demonstration. Using a World Health Organization open-source formula and readily available ingredients (and making a substitution or two when certain components aren’t available), other CBD companies — including those staring at unsold product, a vanished customer base, and a very uncertain future — might be able to follow suit and start producing (CBD-free) hand-sanitizer themselves.

As the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported on Monday, a Hawaii-based whiskey distillery (which just so happens to have a nearly unlimited supply of alcohol on hand, so long as there’s corn to distill) and a medical-cannabis provider have both pivoted to hand-sanitizer production.

“We’re going to start making alcohol solely for the purpose of making sanitizer,” Eric Dill, a recently retired Marine who co-founded Ko’olau Distillery, told the paper. “It was a tough decision, but it’s for the greater good.”

In the case of Aloha Green, the medical-cannabis company uses alcohol as a solvent in extraction and as an ingredient. Company spokesman Ty Cheng said that Aloha Green decided to get into the sanitizer game after that French perfume maker LVMH was pivoting to cleaning — and is producing the stuff in “gallon buckets” as well as filling 10,000 50-milliliter bottles the paper reported.

In this way, CBD and other cannabis companies with basic industrial extraction and production capacity might be able to both help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus — “flattening the curve,” in health experts’ parlance — as well as keep their ledger in the black.

As he told the Missoulian, Belanger realized something had to be done March 13, when he visited a brace of stores to stock up on hand sanitizer for the office and found none. His chemist also had initial bad news when considering how to start producing their own sanitizer when they realized that sourcing aloe vera might be impossible.

Turned out aloe vera is mostly just a “thickening agent” and the main ingredient is, of course, 99.9% rubbing alcohol. (Public-health agencies recommend that hand sanitizer be at least 60% ethanol or 70% isoproponal alcohol in order to destroy pathogens including the stubborn and highly contagious coronavirus, which has a lipid outer shell that is also highly susceptible to hot water and soap.) “Then there’s hydrogen peroxide, glycerol, and distilled water,” he told the newspaper.

Green Ridge’s product is “much thinner” than commercial hand sanitizer we remember from before the pandemic — almost a liquid — but “works just as well” due to the alcohol content, according to the paper.

Company workers came in to “work overtime” to start producing santiizer the very next day, he said, and merchants in the area, including a gas station and restaurants, which at least in Montana have stayed open, snapped up the initial order almost immediately.

Thus far, Green Ridge has produced 2,100 bottles, half of which have been sold online or at the company’s headquarters, the other half donated to first responders, nursing homes and healthcare facilities. The company may be able to produce “a few hundred thousand” bottles of hand sanitizer, so long as Belanger can keep sourcing empty plastic bottles.

TELL US, are you searching for hand sanitizer rather than CBD right now?

The post CBD Company Pivots to Hand Sanitizer appeared first on Cannabis Now.