Illinois Notches Record-Breaking Cannabis Sales in June

The cannabis industry in Illinois, which in June 2019 became the latest state to legalize, broke its own record for recreational sales last month. The Prairie State’s 56 adult-use dispensaries sold nearly a million cannabis items worth upwards of $47.6 million after taxes.

According to official state figures reported by the Arlington Heights Daily Herald and industry monitor Marijuana Moment, $35.3 million worth of sales came from in-state residents, with $12.4 million attributed to sales made by out-of-state visitors. All told, Illinois retailers sold 994,545 THC products in June 2020 — 5,000 more than the previous month.

Illinois dispensaries have sold over $239 million worth of merchandise since legal sales took effect Jan 1.

This is, of course, good news for the state of Illinois. New tax figures are to be released later this month by the state Department of Revenue. In May —also a record-breaking month — the state took in $12.5 million in cannabis taxes and associated sales taxes.

That brought the state’s tax collections from legal cannabis to $52.7 million for the first five months of sales — well above the $28 million estimated for this year’s budget, which ended June 30. 

Towns and counties that allow cannabis sales will begin adding their own taxes in July. While this might modestly increase the purchase price, it will be a boon to localities in a challenging time.

Still Grappling with Equity 

Amid this boom, state and local authorities in the Land of Lincoln are grappling with how to craft a cannabis industry and regulation regime that will promote social equity and begin to reverse the racial and economic injustices associated with marijuana prohibition and the War on Drugs.

With this in mind, new licenses were created to encourage smaller businesses to enter the Illinois cannabis industry. They were supposed to be issued by the state on July 1, Patch reports.

But since the COVID-19 crisis shut down much of state government, Pritzker issued executive orders extending or suspending the deadlines to apply for these new license categories designated for “craft” growers, infusers and independent dispensaries.  

Leading up to the passage of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act  in June of 2019, medical marijuana dispensaries lobbied lawmakers and the office of Gov. JB Pritzker to allow them to effectively monopolize the adult-use market for the first quarter of legal sales. These dispensaries are dominated by only a few large companies with little diversity among their leadership.

Acting Illinois Department of Agriculture director Jerry Costello II told Patch that his office is trying to open multiple paths into the industry for state residents who live in the communities that were hardest hit by marijuana prohibition.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the 6-week deadline extension granted to applicants have caused unforeseeable delays in the application review process,” Costello said. “The Department is working tirelessly to ensure that applications are scored and awarded in a fair, deliberate and equitable manner.”

The governor’s office is similarly pledging progress. Patch quoted a statement issued last month by the Commerce Department featuring words from Toi Hutchinson, the former state senator who was a chief sponsor of the legalization bill and now serves as Pritzker’s senior cannabis advisor. 

“The Pritzker administration remains committed to protecting and pursuing diversity in the adult-use cannabis industry, despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hutchinson said. “Pritzker has made it clear the state’s new industry is about more than revenue, it’s about ensuring communities that have been left out and left behind have new opportunity.”

Localities are meanwhile seeking their own institutional remedies for the social ills of prohibition. Chicago is considering various experimental models for cultivation and retail sales aimed at empowering those communities disproportionately criminalized under prohibition. Ideas being weighed include a city-owned cultivation co-op for residents — including special membership options for low-income individuals who can join on a “sweat equity” basis.

The Chicago suburb of Evanston is the first city in the United States to put revenues from legal cannabis sales into a “reparations” fund for the city’s African American residents — seeking to redress harms, not only from the War on Drugs, but also a greater matrix of social injustice. 

TELL US, does your state have recreational cannabis?

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5 Essential Reads for the 710 Holiday

In the beginning, 710 may have been a day primarily celebrated by wooks with blowtorches, but these days, it’s for everyone. And we can prove it! According to the data crunchers at Headset, total cannabis sales went up around 10% on 710 in 2018 around the country. 

To prepare for this scared holiday for concentrate lovers, we have five must-read stories consisting of a beginner’s guide to dabs, an overview of the past decade in dabbing, a 710 playlist and more!

PHOTO Gracie Malley

READ: The Decade in Dabbing

Over the last 10 years, the art of separating trichomes and terpenes from plant material became a true science and we’re going to take a look at the road that got us to today where we now have the best hash in history.

The Essential Six-Month History of Cold Start Dabs
PHOTO Gracie Malley

READ: Dabbing 101 – A Beginner’s Guide to Concentrates

The term “dab” comes from the motion of touching concentrate to a hot surface or touching a hot surface to concentrate, then inhaling the vapors. Always start off with a small sample and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Check out our “dab vocab” section to get up to code on the terms you’ve probably heard but may not completely understand.

710 limo
PHOTO Dabbs_Dean

READ: City of Terps: A Road Sesh with the 710 Limo

Greg Zeman is in Sacramento to check out the California capital’s sesh, and road trip in a 710 Limo. Here’s a taste of the adventure: And then I do something I never even considered doing before; I “compete” in a Biggest Dab contest. It’s hard to explain what possessed me to do this. They had three grams of a wild concoction of concentrates: shatter, wax, clear, and maybe some other powdered crumble or THCa or something. Honestly, I was already pretty high at this point.

PHOTO Gracie Malley

READ: 8 Essential Globs For Your 710

July 10, otherwise known as 710, has only existed as a hash holiday for eight years, but it’s already entered folklore status. Much like 420 or Christmas with your family, you’re going to need a grocery list and you’re going to need to stock up early, or else you’re going to find yourself in need of a midday supply run.

710 playlist
PHOTO Gracie Malley

READ: 710 Playlist: Make Way for the Concentrates

As the movement grows, so does the message. Whether you are celebrating solo or gearing up for a concentrate extravaganza, these five songs will help keep the dabbing groove going for days to come. Members of the 710 squad, unite – today is your day to puff tuff.

TELL US, do you celebrate 710?

The post 5 Essential Reads for the 710 Holiday appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Mind-Body Health: Cannabis & the Endocannabinoid System

If you’re new to cannabis, you’ve likely asked “How does it work?”

Elise Keller was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33, and she explores this same question in her TED Talk entitled “The Surprising Connection Between Cannabis and Mind-Body Health.”

Keller considered herself to be a healthy person. Frustrated by her diagnoses, she sought out ways to come to terms with cancer and move forward.

At the recommendation of her nurse and other patients, she tried medical cannabis, which helped immensely with her pain, nausea and anxiety. After meeting patients with a range of illnesses who all are using cannabis for treatment, Keller wondered how it is possible that cannabis can help with so many unrelated illnesses.

“In a nutshell, I learned that the reason cannabis was working for so many different conditions is because it interacts directly with our body’s own endocannabinoid system, responsible for maintaining balance in the body,” Keller explained in her presentation. “Used properly, the plant can help activate, tone and support the endocannabinoid system when it’s out of balance,” she further explained.

Many are unfamiliar with the endocannabinoid system, which has even been dubbed the body’s own “master system” due to its role in maintaining balance over all bodily networks.

In her 15 minute TED Talk, Keller offers a digestible break down of how the endocannabinoid system works, explaining how mind, body and medicine are equally important in keeping it strong and healthy.

Understanding how the cannabis plant interacts with this system can further support one’s journey towards achieving truly integrated whole-person health.

Watch the video to learn about Elise Keller’s own discoveries around cannabis and mind-body health.

TELL US, do you use cannabis as medicine?

The post Mind-Body Health: Cannabis & the Endocannabinoid System appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Mind-Body Health: Cannabis & the Endocannabinoid System

If you’re new to cannabis, you’ve likely asked “How does it work?”

Elise Keller was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33, and she explores this same question in her TED Talk entitled “The Surprising Connection Between Cannabis and Mind-Body Health.”

Keller considered herself to be a healthy person. Frustrated by her diagnoses, she sought out ways to come to terms with cancer and move forward.

At the recommendation of her nurse and other patients, she tried medical cannabis, which helped immensely with her pain, nausea and anxiety. After meeting patients with a range of illnesses who all are using cannabis for treatment, Keller wondered how it is possible that cannabis can help with so many unrelated illnesses.

“In a nutshell, I learned that the reason cannabis was working for so many different conditions is because it interacts directly with our body’s own endocannabinoid system, responsible for maintaining balance in the body,” Keller explained in her presentation. “Used properly, the plant can help activate, tone and support the endocannabinoid system when it’s out of balance,” she further explained.

Many are unfamiliar with the endocannabinoid system, which has even been dubbed the body’s own “master system” due to its role in maintaining balance over all bodily networks.

In her 15 minute TED Talk, Keller offers a digestible break down of how the endocannabinoid system works, explaining how mind, body and medicine are equally important in keeping it strong and healthy.

Understanding how the cannabis plant interacts with this system can further support one’s journey towards achieving truly integrated whole-person health.

Watch the video to learn about Elise Keller’s own discoveries around cannabis and mind-body health.

TELL US, do you use cannabis as medicine?

The post Mind-Body Health: Cannabis & the Endocannabinoid System appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Calexo’s Sparkling Cannabis Drinks are a Perfect Replacement for Alcohol

Start the summer off right with some fizzy fun by stocking up on Calexo’s new line of super tasty sparkling cannabis drinks.

These drinks will keep you going through the hectic work week but are also a wonderful way to sip and socialize after hours with like-minded friends who prefer the high of cannabis to the buzz of alcoholic beverages.

Nano-Emulsified THC  

Founded by artists and creatives in 2019, Calexo is a Los Angeles-based beverage brand that launched its first sparkling cannabis beverages earlier this year.

“We wanted to make sure the drinks we created were things you could consume lightly and often without compromising your body,” said Calexo’s founder and CEO, Brandon Andrew, on the podcast Dazed and Infused.

Each bottle of Calexo is packed with all-natural ingredients and 10 mg of nano-emulsified THC, allowing for absorption sublingually through the blood brain barrier rather than through the liver. Nano-emulsification is an extraction process that creates tiny THC droplets from cannabis oil, perfect for sublingual consumption. These droplets mix uniformly throughout each bottle, resulting in a precisely dosed product with a quick onset. This means consumers can know exactly what they’re getting each time they pop open a Calexo.

“By using Nano-technology to make cannabis more punctual and reliable, we hope to encourage body sovereignty. We hope that each individual can discover what really feels good in their own body and learn how to fine-tune those experiences. Cannabis, with the right dose, set and setting, often encourages empathy and enhances creativity,” said Ian Colon, co-founder and CMO of Calexo.

There’s no sitting around for an hour waiting for the edible to kick in with these drinks. The onset period is 15 minutes while the offset is about an hour, making it fairly similar to having a cocktail – but without the toll on your body.

“We came at this thinking about our livers,” said Andrew, while on the same podcast. “Our audience is people who are looking to step away from alcohol but still want to keep drinking recreationally.”

Design-Centered Approach

Based in Los Angeles, Calexo brings an artistic and modern Southern California feel to their brand – especially in the presentation of their product.

Calexo cannabis drinks summer

On a bottle of the Citrus Rose drink, shades of teal and cream weave together while a burst of vibrant coral catches the eye, evoking a California sunset. Santa Monica-based design agency TRÜF is responsible for the branding, visual identity and packaging of Calexo, and they absolutely crushed it. The design is clean and simple while also feeling like a work of art. It doesn’t delve into cannabis clichés, as many edibles brands tend to do.

“Raising the bar on both quality and design of cannabis [products] helps to shift the collective conception of what this plant is,” Colon said.

Colon emphasizes that creating an aesthetically pleasing package design was an aim to reach more people.

“We represent a set of values centered on inclusion and excellence and know that appealing design and fantastic products are key in generating curiosity,” he said.

As a collaborative brand by design, Calexo’s founders intentionally sought out leaders in their field to help shape everything from the package design, content and experiences. Working with experts like, TRÜF, Better/Good, Resource Residency and Hotline helped to crystallize Calexo’s mission of high-quality design and inclusion.

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California Dreaming 🌴

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Calexo strives to “bring a smile to your mind” with their brand, and if the packaging alone isn’t able to do so, the flavors of their refreshing drinks certainly will.

Committed to always using carefully selected, premium ingredients with no artificial flavors, sweeteners or colors, Calexo’s Cucumber Citron and Citrus Rose are unique because the flavor is not modeled after a drink that already exists.

Using all-natural juices and botanicals, the goal is to complement rather than mask the nano-emulsified cannabis, and the result is a complex flavor that delights the senses.

Calexo retails around $20 per 22oz bottle and is available for delivery throughout Los Angeles from Sweet Flower and across the Bay Area through ONA.Life. The drinks will be available to the rest of California soon and will launch in Canada this fall.

TELL US, are you going to look for cannabis-infused drinks this summer?

The post Calexo’s Sparkling Cannabis Drinks are a Perfect Replacement for Alcohol appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Michael Pollan & The Landscape of the Mind

Michael Pollan is best known for his groundbreaking, best-selling books on food — which collectively have helped spark a revolution in the way we think about what we eat and where it comes from — but he also has a longstanding interest in cannabis. As far back as 1995, he traveled to the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam for a New York Times Magazine cover story on the growers and breeders behind the world’s highest-potency strains, a group of illicit horticulturalists he called “the best gardeners of my generation.”

“I had come to Amsterdam to meet some of these gardeners and learn how, in little more than a decade, marijuana growing in America had evolved from a hobby of aging hippies into a burgeoning high-tech industry,” he wrote. “Fewer than 20 years ago, virtually all the marijuana consumed in America was imported. ‘Home grown’ was a term of opprobrium — ‘something you only smoked in an emergency,’ as one grower old enough to remember put it. Today… American marijuana cultivation has developed to the point where the potency, quality and consistency of the domestic product are considered as good as, if not better than, any in the world.”

At the time, such high praise from one of the world’s leading journalists was virtually unheard of in the world of cannabis. In the article, Pollan even admitted to making his own furtive attempt to grow cannabis back in the 1980s, which he dubbed “a fiasco.” Later, he included cannabis as one of four species profiled in “The Botany of Desire,” his best-selling book that took a “plant’s eye view of the world.”

And now Pollan has gone a significant step further into the study of psychoactivity with his latest book, “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.” Pollan defines psychedelics as substances that not only affect the mind (like cannabis), but are fully “mind manifesting,” noting the term itself was coined in 1956 by Humphry Osmond “to describe drugs like LSD and psilocybin that produce radical changes in consciousness.”

At a stop on his national tour to promote the book, he sat down for an interview that touched on everything from DMT extracted from toads and the brain’s “default mode network,” to the benefits of dissolving your ego and Pollan’s personal experiences taking various psychedelics with a series of underground guides.

Cannabis Now: You write about the ineffable nature of psychedelics, meaning the experience of taking them is difficult or impossible to describe in words. Given that challenge, I love your description of tripping as being like “shaking the snow globe” of the mind. But what does that mean exactly?

Michael Pollan: The snow globe metaphor comes from Robin Carhart-Harris, one of the leading neuroscientists studying psychedelics today, and the researcher who’s probably done the most analytical work to try to understand how psychedelics affect us and why they might be therapeutic. He’s even been using MRIs and other brain imaging tools to see what happens neurologically during a psychedelic trip. Just imagine being injected with psilocybin [the active compound in “magic” mushrooms] or LSD and then sliding into an MRI. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, so these are volunteers to whom we should all be grateful.

Anyway, what the researchers discovered really surprised them. Turns out one particular brain network called the default mode network was downregulated (i.e. suppressed) during the psychedelic experience.

What does that system do? And why might disrupting it prove beneficial?

The default mode network is a network of brain structures that are tightly linked, so they communicate a lot with each other. And what they do is connect structures in the cortex — the most evolutionarily recent part of the brain, where executive function takes place — to much older and deeper structures involved in memory and emotion. So this is a very important transit hub.

The brain has a hierarchical structure, and the default mode network kind of rides over the whole thing. It’s involved with self-reflection and self-criticism. It’s where our minds go to wander when we’re not doing something. It’s where we get our ability to think about the future or the past. And finally, it’s involved in what’s called “the autobiographical self” — a function of the brain that integrates all of your experiences into the story of your life and keeps that story going. Because without that story, you don’t really exist as an independent self.

Michael Pollan Illustration Cannabis Now

Illustration Ryan Garcia for Cannabis Now

If the ego had an address, it would be the default mode network. So how interesting that when psychedelics temporarily put that network offline, people report “melting away” with no sense of self.

Now, why dissolving one’s ego might be helpful — that’s a whole other discussion. For starters, it’s possible that having a hyperactive default mode network could be responsible for various kinds of mental illness, especially those that involve obsessive rumination and getting stuck on really destructive stories about yourself. For instance: “I can’t get through the next hour without a cigarette.” Or: “I’m unworthy of love.”

That kind of rigidity of thinking is characteristic of anxiety, depression and addiction, which happen to be the three indications which, so far, psychedelics have proven the most valuable in treating.

What about the risks?

Psychedelics are not addictive or drugs of abuse. If you give rats a lever that dispenses cocaine, they’ll press it until they die, but give them the same lever with LSD and they’ll pull it once and never again. So the risks are largely psychological — and there are people who have psychotic episodes triggered by psychedelics, especially people at risk for schizophrenia.

Before moving forward with my own psychedelic experiences, I actually went to my cardiologist and told him what I was planning, and the only psychedelic he warned me off of was MDMA (ecstasy). He basically greenlighted the others, so off I went, on a series of really interesting journeys, all but one of which were guided by trained underground therapists.

Ideally, I would have participated in one of the fully legal clinical trials currently underway, but I didn’t qualify for any of them and perhaps they didn’t want a journalist hanging around anyway. So I took psilocybin from psychedelic mushrooms, LSD, 5-MeO-DMT from dried toad venom and ayahuasca. They were all very interesting experiences that taught me important things about myself and allowed for a certain stock-taking of life that I found invaluable.

Why do you think the authorities have been, at least until relatively recently, so hostile to psychedelics and the psychedelic mind state?

When psychedelics arrived in the United States, largely in the 1950s and ’60s, they arrived naked. Which is to say that these incredible molecules showed up, with very powerful properties, and unlike many other cultures which had long traditions of ceremonial and shamanistic use, we didn’t know how to use them. In those other cultures the psychedelic experience was regulated, guided and to some extent controlled by elders with decades of experience, but that’s not what happened here.

And so, while a lot of people had very positive experiences simply taking psychedelics at a concert or during a walk in the woods, some got into trouble. The experience of feeling your ego dissolve can be ecstatic but it can also be terrifying. And if there’s no one there to help you with that, you can get into a very dark place and have a panic reaction.

So that partly explains how the authorities reacted. But another big part of this is that psychedelics became a sacrament for the counterculture. Which was a very positive thing for the counterculture, but not for members of the establishment who were trying to send young men off to Vietnam to fight a war.

Psychedelics therefore became very frightening to the authorities.

Your experiences varied pretty widely, based on the specific psychedelic and set-and-setting. Which did you find most useful?

The most valuable experience was my guided psilocybin trip, where a lot of interesting things happened, but what was perhaps most helpful was having my sense of self dissolve completely. I saw myself blown into the wind like a sheaf of little Post-it notes, and I was fine with it. I had no desire to compile myself back together.

The consciousness that was perceiving this was not my usual consciousness. Aldous Huxley [author of “Brave New World”] would say it was “the mind at large.” And this is what I think has helped terminal cancer patients who’ve been given psychedelics to help deal with end-of-life anxiety. Taping into this kind of universal consciousness that doesn’t have the usual ego defenses attached to it can be incredibly liberating. It also could have been terrifying, but I felt safe and that’s really what’s important about having a guided experience.

You’re going to have to put down all of your mental defenses when taking a high-dose psychedelic trip and if you do that in a situation where don’t feel safe or trust the person that you’re with, it can be terrifying. But I did trust my guide, and so I was able to let go and surrender to the experience.

And the insight I brought away was, “Wow, I’m not identical to my ego.”

Ego is really important. Ego gets the book written, but it also gets in our way, and walls us off from other people and from strong emotions. I think ego consciousness is at the root of tribalism and the environmental crisis, because it separates us from nature. So to find out there’s another ground on which to stand, for me that was a real epiphany. I could have gotten there probably via 20 or 30 years of psychoanalysis, but I got there in an afternoon and that’s the power of psychedelics when used in the right context.

Then, after the experience comes the most important part, which we don’t talk about enough because we tend to focus on the trip itself. But if you’re engaged in therapist-assisted psychedelic therapy, as I was, there’s a formal session where you share your experience with the therapist and attempt to integrate it into the rest of your “normal” life.

When I reported my surprise at finding that I’m not the same as my ego, and how liberating that felt, the therapist said, “Well, that’s really worth the price of admission isn’t it? You’ve had a taste of another way to be and now you can cultivate that feeling and exercise that new muscle.”

TELL US, do you see a medical value in psychedelics?

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

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How to Smoke a Joint Like a Cannabis Connoisseur

To truly appreciate the finest cannabis flowers, one must smoke a joint. The process of inspecting, smelling, choosing and grinding a flower — then rolling that joint — is as integral to the smoking experience as inhaling, savoring and exhaling the smoke; this is the mindfulness of smoking.

One of the best ways to heighten your appreciation of the magical herb is to host a blind cannabis tasting. Simply acquire three or four different strains and repackage them into numbered containers — the less information you have, the easier it is to let the cannabis speak for itself.

Now comes the involvement of all the five senses.

The Eyes Don’t Lie

First is the visual appraisal. Under a good light, describe the overall shape and color of the bud. Notice the length, profusion and color of the hairs. Is it trimmed well, or is it too shaggy or too tight? Is the bud dense and hard or loose and open?

Finally, using a 60x mini-microscope, check out the trichomes and look for clear, cloudy or amber color. If the stalks of the trichomes have no round tops, chances are the cannabis was machine trimmed or mishandled in some way.

Follow Your Nose

Second is the assessment of fragrance. Pinch the flower bud and inhale deeply. Now break apart the bud and smell again. What associations immediately pop into your mind? Take your frame of reference from smells outside the world of cannabis, such as the smell of butterscotch or motor oil or dirty armpit, etc. As you break up the bud, inspect the interior for mold or discoloration. Your fingers will provide a measure of the curing: too damp, too dry or just right. Now grind up the flower and smell again.

Listening Party

If you are having a tasting with friends, don’t say anything until everyone has had a smell, so as not to prejudice anyone’s nose. The fragrance derives from the terpenes, which are volatile organic compounds that give aroma to most vegetative substances. They range from earthy, musty, moldy and piney antiseptic, to citrusy lemon, tutti fruity and blueberry. As judges for the Emerald Cup, one of the world’s largest outdoor cannabis events, we look for what they call “jar jumping” terpenes — the kind that instantly fill your room with their olfactory delights.

Over the years, we’ve sampled entries at the cup smelling like mothballs, moldy rags, new car interior, old sneakers and the high school gym at the end of the game. There is also the sweeter range, including suntan lotion and bubble gum, tangerines, strawberries, pineapples and so on.

Remember that, as a judge, it’s not about whether you like the smell or not, but just how well it represents that variety. What does it tell you about the flowers? The effects of smell and taste are much more profound than we generally realize, so do linger on them for awhile.

Grind Time

A good grind of the flowers is as essential to rolling a good joint as it is for making a good cup of coffee. We prefer the Mendo Mulcher, which has round-edged teeth that grind, rather than cut the flower. The Mulcher also delivers a homogenous texture that helps create a joint that burns better.

Get Your Roll On

Rolling papers are also important. We use Elements Rolling Papers, which can handle a lot of manipulation during the rolling and not tear, plus they leave no ash. A clean burn is imperative to enhancing your smoking pleasure and, of course, the less paper the better. If you are rolling a very thin joint, you would use 1” papers, while a real Swami Joint requires the full 1-¼”.

While rolling, make the final assessment of the cure. If there is a lot of “dust” on the rolling tray, it’s too dry; if it is too sticky, it may still be too damp; a really potent bud will feel slightly oily or greasy, not damp.

Savor the Flavor

Before lighting the rolled joint, take a “dry” hit. That is, take a big puff on the unlit joint. Pass it around. Savor it. This is the final judgment on the fragrance. Most often, the dry hit flavor mirrors the smell, sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker.

Catch a Fire

Now comes what everyone has been waiting for: the smoking of a truly high-grade cannabis joint. It will be a journey — a savory, olfactory, gustatory adventure offering new insights with every succeeding half-inch of smoking pleasure.

The advanced way of lighting a joint is with hemp-beeswax string. Light the joint like you would a cigar, rotating it to make sure it is evenly lit. When lighting the joint, don’t make any evaluation until the igniter’s second hit, again waiting for everyone to taste before commenting.

Check out the color of the ash. Fine white ash indicates purity. Black ash may mean contaminates.

Swami smoking a joint during cannabis tasting

Inhale slowly and carefully, feeling the smoke fill all the respiratory chambers, but don’t take too big of a hit. Check for lung expansion: is it barely possible to hold in the smoke? Exhale slowly through nose and mouth, tasting and sampling and smacking your lips. Does it taste like the aroma, the nose, or is it different? Once again, let your culinary imagination range with a free association of flavors — the name of that taste will be right on the tip of your tongue!

Can You Feel It?

After a few hits, as you are puzzling over the flavor, tune yourself into the effect the herb is having on your body. Take a roll call of your appendages: are there tingly sensations, points of heat or cold? What is going on behind your eyes, between the ears, in the neck?

Now move on the the metaphysical stimuli: is it a body stone or a head high? Social, giggly, quiet, couch-lock, creative, musical, intellectual, introspective, get up and get some chores done? How do you feel? Are you inspired? Combine that inspiration with your heightened sensory, spiritual and social awareness.

May every joint be a journey for you!

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

TELL US, does this inspire you to gather your buds and host your own blind cannabis tasting?

The post How to Smoke a Joint Like a Cannabis Connoisseur appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Patriotic Pot: 10 Strains For the Fourth Of July

Today’s the day to show off your chef skills and help keep everyone’s spirits high with a nice strain or two inspired by the holiday. Take a look at some of these options and see which Fourth of July inspired strains you’d like to try to give your celebration that extra edge.

Red Haze

Stay excited and inspired with this uplifting and euphoric sativa made from a cross of Neville’s Haze and Columbian Red. It’s great for dealing with body pain and also helps to alleviate stress, making it a good option for a carefree day.

White OG

If you’re planning for a chill weekend around the house, this relaxing indica will keep you happy and peaceful. It has a strong, pungent aroma with a tasty, lemon flavor profile that assists with beating the blues and issues with insomnia.

Blue Train

Two classics came together to make this deliciously sweet and fruity hybrid. Thanks to Trainwreck and Blue Dream, Blue Train has all the common characteristics of a super dank strain with a pleasant high and calming body stone.


Piney and musky, this Canadian strain is a good pick for an end of the night smoke for people who need help getting to sleep. Go for Americano after the fun of the day has died down to help mellow out.

Morning Star

If the idea of entertaining a house full of guests seems overwhelming, Morning Star can help reduce some of the stress associated with hosting holiday shenanigans. Deliciously sweet and potent, this hybrid strain is good for dealing with pre-party jitters.

Obama Kush

Like the current commander-in-chief, this strain is known for its balanced high. Made from a cross of Afghani and OG Kush, this indica offers both cerebral and physical effects for a relaxing and euphoric experience.

Danky Doodle

Give your palette something new to try with this nutty, earthy strain with hints of coffee that helps combat depression, anxiety and stress. Perfect for a small, intimate gathering of people who are looking for a low-key way to celebrate.

Big Bang

This power-packed indica combines not two, but three potent strains into one mega strain. Skunk, Northern Lights and El Nino make up the trinity that is the Big Bang, a sweet-smelling, pain-reducing flower that soothes the body and calms the mind.


Keep your energy up with this mood-boosting, creativity-inducing strain known for its enjoyable cerebral buzz and ability to get rid of headaches, fatigue and nausea. It has a zesty, citrus smell thanks to its parents: Jack’s Cleaner and Vortex.

Presidential OG

This strong indica has a highly sedative effect, making it a good choice for people who like strains that hit hard and fast. With deep, earthy flavors and piney undertone, this patriotic strain will have you pleasantly sleepy in no time.

TELL US, what are you smoking this Fourth of July?

The post Patriotic Pot: 10 Strains For the Fourth Of July appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Chocolate Kush Rocky Road Ice Cream for July 4th

This Fourth of July, we as a nation will be celebrating our independence from the British Empire by commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. This historical day will be full of celebratory parties, barbecues, picnics, parades, carnivals, concerts, fairs and family functions which all end in a huge fireworks display.

Chocolate Kush is an indica-dominant hybrid that will produce strong relaxing vibes as well as a state of inner peace. This type of feeling is absolutely perfect when lying on a blanket under the night sky while watching the fireworks. This strain also produces a trance-like euphoria that will make a night of pyrotechnics absolutely dazzling. The terpenes of Chocolate Kush will help to intensify the chocolate flavor profiles in the ice cream while also playing off the sweetness of the marshmallow fluff. I would recommend that you enjoy this rocky road ice cream either in a bowl, cone, or sandwiched between two of your favorite cookies. One word of caution, this is an incredibly delicious recipe and the strain itself is a creeper, so make sure not to overeat or you may just find yourself “couch-locked” on a field of grass somewhere looking up at the stars in wonder.

Mise en place:

14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 gram Chocolate Kush kief
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup carob powder
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup light cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup chocolate covered hazelnuts
3/4 cup marshmallow fluff


Step 1: Decarboxylize: Preheat your oven to 220 degrees F. Take a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper that will not burn in the oven. Very carefully sprinkle the kief onto the sheet making sure that it is evenly disbursed. Place the baking sheet into the oven uncovered and heat for 25 minutes. Pull the baking sheet from the oven, and let it cool completely. Be very careful when removing it from the pan.

Step 2: In a saucepan combine the condensed milk, Chocolate Kush, cocoa powder, and carob powder over the lowest heat setting until fully combined.

Step 3: After this mixture has thickened slightly, remove from the heat and allow it to cool just a little bit.

Step 4: Now stir in the creams and the vanilla extract with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated.

Step 5: Let this mixture come down to room temperature then place into the refrigerator until completely chilled.

Step 6: Once the mixture has completely chilled, pour it into a home ice cream maker and follow the directions on the machine.

Step 7: Halfway through the ice cream mixing process add the almonds, chocolate covered hazelnuts, and marshmallow fluff.

Step 8: When the time is up, scoop out the ice cream and enjoy! Makes about 16 servings.


If the gram of kief tests at 50% THC, fifty percent of 1,000mg would be 500mg. So if you added 1/2 gram worth of kief into the total recipe at 50% THC, it would contain 250mg total or 15.63mg per serving. Sub the number of your THC percentage and do the math to figure out your dosing. If you want a smaller dose, cut the kief down to a smaller portion

Strain Suggestions:

I would recommend strains that possess chocolate, coffee, earthy, sandalwood, or spice like terpenes and flavonoids. The following would be ideal if you didn’t have Chocolate Kush: Chocolope, Chocolate Thai, Headband, Harlequin, Spice, Coffee Kush, or Hashplant. If you cannot find these strains don’t panic, just follow your nose and taste buds to finds strains that would complement the dish.

TELL US, do you have July 4th plans?

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Gearing up for Fourth of July Weekend: Cannabis Edition

This weekend is the Fourth of July, which is usually a day that Americans gather in large groups, eat hot dogs, watch fireworks and celebrate freedom. This year will be different due to COVID-19. Many fireworks celebrations are being canceled across the nation and it is still recommended that no large groups congregate.

That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the day with people in your smaller social bubble or even on Zoom. We’ve got a list of strains that pair perfectly with Independence Day celebrations and large list of cannabis-infused food selections to prepare for the weekend.

And speaking of freedom, let’s use this holiday to think about how we’re not exactly free in this country, especially when it comes to some of the things we’re allowed to possess, ingest or do with our bodies. There is still a lot of work to be done towards the legalization of the plant we all love and in many other aspects of our society.

READ: Top Strains For Your Fourth of July Celebration

There’s nothing quite like celebrating your country’s 241st birthday with some fine cannabis, and this year we’ve got you covered will all the herbal accessories you’ll need to make the fireworks look even cooler!

As with every Independence Day, those hot dogs aren’t going to eat themselves. You’re going to need the proper fuels to start in the early afternoon with the barbecue, progress onto the municipal fireworks display, and finally close the night off with that bonfire that’s likely not exactly up to code.

As always, remember to consume responsibly — especially where fireworks are involved.

Fourth of July Edibles
PHOTO Karolina Grabowska

READ: The Best Fourth of July Cannabis Edibles

Whether you have day jam-packed with activities out in the sunshine or plan on taking it easy until it’s time for fireworks, figuring out your plan for staying medicated is a must.

Check out this list of sweet and savory edibles (and drinks!) that you can bring to the picnic, potluck, barbeque or just enjoy at home.

Someone rolls up a joint in American flag papers for the 4th of July.

READ: Do’s and Don’ts for the Fourth of July Weekend

This weekend there will be an abundance of backyard barbeques and poolside parties where tokers will have the opportunity to show off their manners while they celebrate. Chances are most know not to leave their spit all over the mouthpiece, not to torch the entire bowl during a bong rip and that “puff, puff, pass” is more than just a casual recommendation while in a group setting. But sometimes details slip under the radar and make for some disastrous party fouls.

Check out these suggestions to help keep the weekend blooper-free.

Marijuana Legalization: Where’s the Buzz About Freedom?
PHOTO Jurassic Blueberries

READ: Marijuana Legalization: Where’s the Buzz About Freedom?

If there is one aspect of the marijuana legalization debate that doesn’t get as much talk time as it should, it is the idea that adults should have the freedom to use the herb without the risk of John Law trying to put them in a cage.

Chew on that today while you are hanging out with friends and family, grilling meats, drinking booze and firing off explosives. Perhaps the first spark of the day should be one dedicated to the new freedoms to come. And if that spark just so happens to lead to you getting stoned, well, all the better.

Strawberry Cough-Infused Overnight Oats
PHOTO Jessica Catalano

READ: Fourth of July Cannabis Recipe: Strawberry Cough-Infused Overnight Oats

Let’s face it, every Fourth of July, we all celebrate — hard. Those of us hosting backyard barbecues across the nation will be whipping up traditional American foods, including hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, potato salad, macaroni salad, potato chips, strawberry shortcakes, barbecue pork and chicken, lemonade,  flag-colored desserts, and spiked drinks of every concoction. While eating healthy food seems to be almost impossible on the Fourth of July,  this recipe for cannabis-infused overnight oats with strawberries is both indulgent and nutritious.

Cannabis Is the Best Fourth of July Drug
PHOTO Gracie Malley

READ: Cannabis Is the Best Fourth of July Drug

A personal essay on a Fourth of July slice of life, experiencing personal freedom and how it relates to cannabis freedoms.

TELL US, are you celebrating the Fourth of July this year?

The post Gearing up for Fourth of July Weekend: Cannabis Edition appeared first on Cannabis Now.