Rejoice! Cannabis Seeds are Legal

Ed Rosenthal is a legend in cannabis known for bucking the rules. The longtime cultivation author went up against the feds for providing marijuana to medical patients in 2003 and was ultimately sentenced to a single day in prison, time served. Rosenthal’s devoted his life promoting cannabis—he’s responsible for proliferating the classic South African landrace Durban Poison, partnered with at least 50 European seed companies for multiple books in his Big Book of Buds series, and even has a cultivar, Ed Rosenthal Super Bud, named after him—but he’s never released his own genetics. That is, until now. Back in April, the DEA quietly acknowledged that cannabis seeds are legal. Rosenthal began releasing seed packs alongside his books in May. Since then, rapper and Cookies clothing mogul Berner has also embraced the idea, offering seed packs along with his recent From Seed to Sale album release. 

The DEA’s reasoning behind the affirmation that cannabis seeds are legal in the U.S. had to do with the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp, defining and separating it from the pot we smoke as Cannabis sativa with less than .03% delta-9 THC. When questioned about the legality of seeds, tissue culture, and “other genetic material” the agency response was that marihuana (yes, they still spell it like that) seeds that contain less than .03% delta-9 THC meet the definition of hemp and are therefore, not a controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. 

Sprouting the Seed: Reviving & Distributing Genetics

While speaking in his tropical sunroom filled with the lush multicolored tie-dye like leaves of caladiums and yellow and pink ombre neon hued plumeria blossoms on an overcast December day, Rosenthal explains about how the idea to distribute cannabis seeds as a free bonus with his most recent book began. We’re longtime friends and co-collaborators on a number of projects including the 2022 release of the Cannabis Grower’s Handbook, and I start off our conversation/smoke session by asking about a story he once told me of selling seeds in the Bronx as a child.

“I lived in a residential area and there were people with yards with different plants—a lot of annuals, things like marigold, zinnias—and I would go and collect the seeds from plants when they didn’t clip the flowers off and then I made them into packs,” he says. “It was a place where loads of people went out and hung out on benches and everything and I would sell them the seeds, for which they had no use because they were living in apartments but (laughs).”

Now in his late 70s, Rosenthal was just 8 years old at the time and even received an unofficial certificate for his seed business which, believe it or not, was called Homegrown Seed Company. This was the beginning of a longtime career promoting plant cultivation. He co-founded High Times Magazine in 1974 and the 1978 New York Times review of the Marijuana Grower’s Guide he co-authored with Mel Frank catapulted his publishing career. Through all these years of smoking tough he’s settled on one cultivar that’s arguably his favorite strain, J-27. Back in California’s medical marijuana era, growers needed patients to up their plant counts and one in particular found a number of them amongst the employees of Rosenthal’s publishing company. This grower would deliver ounces, but never the cut. Within the last year, he finally acquired the sole J-27 plant, which he describes as a “treat” with a similar terpene profile to Wedding Cake.

“I gave it to two good breeders, but they were so frustrated by it that they gave it back and I had the only plant,” he says. “And I said, ‘You know what? I’m exactly the wrong person to be doing this because I’m too much of a slacker.’”

To revive the almost lost cultivar he partnered with Humboldt Seed Company and hopes to release hybrid J-27 seeds by 2023. 

“They’ve had a hard time with the plant because it’s a cut from the cut, from the cut from 20 years ago,” Rosenthal explains. “The plant is saying, ‘Oh please let me die.’ But they did coax a few clones from it and they have the same problems, but now that they have clones they can breed it.” 

His own homegrown seed promotion, which Rosenthal has coined the “Million Marijuana Seed Giveaway,” started with a female Jack Herer crossed with “two males, that were vigorous and early,” from Humboldt Seed Company, Very Cherry and Blueberry Muffin, to create Double Dipper. 

Rosenthal with Double Dipper / Courtesy Ed Rosenthal

“As far as the Million Marijuana Seed Giveaway, all of the crosses are really good crosses and they’re hybrids,” he says. “They’re not F1 hybrids [first generation], but they’re F2 hybrids. The next [generation] they sort of sort out and you get a lot of variation. So there’s going to be variation in these plants and then a grower can choose which plants he or she would like to continue with.”

When Rosenthal grew some of his seeds for his own backyard phenohunt this past summer, he did so in a style that allows for more buds and less vegetation. Using light deprivation techniques he brought the plants into flower early, which produced single stalks of long buds. This method allowed him to grow many plants close together. It also enabled the plants to grow more efficiently, using their carbon dioxide resources to grow buds, as opposed to leaves and branches. This method is also economical as the reduced amount of time spent in vegetation gives indoor and greenhouse growers enough time for an extra harvest, he explains.

Prisoners of Weed Packs

Rosenthal’s wife and publishing partner Jane Klein says the seed strategy has worked in terms of boosting book sales. Each seed drop, of which there have been four thus far, averages about 400 packs containing 10 seeds each. In the sale of the “Prisoners of Weed” packs, 10% of each sale is given to the Last Prisoner Project, an organization which advocates to free those incarcerated for marijuana convictions. 

“So many people who are getting the seeds to grow, but also as a collection, already had the books, so then we created the grow tips booklet,” Klein says of a short booklet that includes two seed packs with purchase. 

The booklet has a QR code that will send people to an expanding library of material. 

“We definitely were inspired by the DEA,” Klein says of the book bundle/seed promotion in relation to the April 2022 DEA letter. “I like it that they were saying that seeds don’t fall under the Controlled Substances Act so now we have the whole conversation of should [cannabis] be rescheduled or descheduled? Why should it be even included in the Controlled Substances Act?”

Seeds vs. Clones   

In this new legal space for seeds Rosenthal predicts a future where they go down in price, leading more growers to choose seeds over clones. 

“Let’s say that you have a variety that’s very uniform, there’s a lot of advantages of starting from seed,” he explains. “There’s a lot less of a chance of infection because many viruses don’t transfer to the seed so that’s one thing. Another thing is that they’re easy to store, transport, and things like that. Seeds will wait, but clones won’t.”

He takes his prediction further stating that as the genetics of cannabis seeds get more uniform we might see people offering germinated seeds, or seedlings, in the same way that tomato seedlings are sold at nurseries.

Rebellious entrepreneurs like Rosenthal and Klein will surely keep pushing the boundaries of where cannabis seeds might pop up next. Watch for where that might be; growing your own weed in 2023 makes for a great New Year’s resolution. 

“I think another interesting thing with the DEA ruling is [thinking about] will more hydro stores start to sell seeds?” Klein says. “This would definitely be a new product that wouldn’t take up a lot of shelf space for them and would inspire people to come into the store and maybe buy other things.”

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Cannabis Trends From MJBizCon: Cultivation, Rolling Papers, Vapes, & White-Labeling

The biggest cannabis business convention came and went last week. And it made a lot clear, particularly in trends. So, what are the biggest cannabis industry trends currently going on according to MJBizCon? Read on to find out where the money grabs are in the legal world of weed.

What is MJBizCon?

If that word looks strange to you (and maybe a little familiar), let me explain what it is. MJBizCon is a cannabis convention that’s put on every year by the Colorado-based publication Marijuana Business Daily, AKA MJBizDaily. If you read a lot about the weed industry, you’ve probably come across plenty of their articles.

In 2012, this publication launched the first Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, which we lovingly refer to as MJBizCon. The convention serves as a national trade show for businesses within the legal cannabis industry. This is an important note to make, because for the most part, it rules out gray market areas like the cannabinoid industry, which offers us synthetics in the form of delta-8 and HHC, among others. Right now, MJBizCon is considered the largest business trade show of the legal industry.

Every year, the business end of the cannabis space gathers in Las Vegas, so new connections can be made, new products and services put on display, and for the general public to get a gander at what’s out there. Complete with after parties, and big names like Mike Tyson, MJBizCon has become a popular event for anyone related to the world of weed.

The public is also allowed in this trade show, and the ability to be first in line to see what’s new, and for special convention deals, brings in those unrelated to the business world. Overall, it’s like one big weed party that we all get to play at. And regardless of whether you make a big purchase, or get a good new business connection, you’re sure to walk away with some interesting goodies and samples to try.

Biggest cannabis industry trends according to MJBizCon: Cultivation

Now, technically, as a business convention, MJBizCon leans more toward a B2B experience, and less towards B2C. In that sense, its great for seeing how businesses are trying to make money in the industry. The cannabis market is still relatively new, and still getting its footing, and those eager to make a buck tend to gravitate toward where they think its possible. There are a lot of issues with the industry, and it not performing to original expectations. These trends show where operators are focusing within the legal industry, to make money.

The biggest trend was in cultivation. However this is an interesting concept because of what it implies. Cultivation itself comes with the issue of overproduction, something that can devalue a product simply by having too much of it. Cannabis prices have plummeted all over the place because of this issue, so it stands to reason that much of what is offered in the realm of cultivation, is geared not just toward large-scale growing, but towards individual cultivators as well.

This was made clear when I picked up a sample of GrowSafe Bio-Pesticide. Sure, the product is technically made for large-scale production, but the exhibitors were quick to throw in how their product can be safely used by any home-grower (and for that matter, with more crops than just cannabis).


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Cultivation might be key to the industry in general, but part of what makes cultivation products a big trend, is that cultivation equipment, especially when it comes to certain products like natural pesticides and lights, can be marketed to home-growers as well; who make up a big, and growing, part of the industry. For that reason, cultivation products, from lights to organic pesticide to growing chambers, should remain popular as they relate to both the mass production side, and the individual production side.

Biggest cannabis industry trends according to MJBizCon: rolling papers and vapes

I’m putting these together because it’s almost funny how opposite they are. One represents the standard way of smoking, and one, the newer healthier option. I should clarify though, when I say vapes, I mean oil vapes. And what this really means, is the batteries used to power the carts, and the carts as well. One growing (but still small) trend related to the carts specifically, is reusable cartridges, which will hopefully become an even bigger trend in the future.

While dry herb vapes were represented by companies like Storz and Bickel, (bigger names that have remained through time), the mass showing at the convention was for the newer oil version. Here there are less established names ruling the roost, and more way to gain entry; though with much competition, as evidenced by the convention.

They came in all shapes, colors, and sizes, with nearly every company advertising a square-shaped design; something they all seemed to think they cornered the market with. They also all do about the same thing. In fact, whereas it used to be easier to find better batteries with temperature control, now they’re all simpler models that don’t allow for such precision. There was very little difference between products, but an obvious desire to capitalize on the vape trend.

Conversely, rolling papers were also all the rage, and this was the case last year as well, and for good reason. Most people still roll joints. They’re offered with and without filters, as pre-roll cones, as blunt wraps, with and without flavors (advertised as terpene infused, but tasting like synthetic chemicals), and in a variety of sizes. Most were about the same, while some, like the company High Tea, offered products like blunt papers made of tea leaves with no tobacco, nicotine, or hemp involved. Much like with vapes, aside from companies like High Tea, there wasn’t a massive difference between products for the most part. Most were white-label products with different branding, which itself, was quite a trend this year.

Biggest cannabis industry trends according to MJBizCon: white label products

It seems the next big money grab in the legal cannabis industry, is in white labeling and branding. White labeling is when a product is made by a manufacturer, which can be individually branded as per a company. This means many companies are selling the exact same product, but with their own individual labeling. It’s very common in many industries. Tons of products you use that you thought were specific to a brand name, are likely white labeled products that a brand name was simply stuck on.

In the case of the weed industry, tons of white-labeling and branding services were offered. Whether you want to sell your own line of rolling papers or vapes, get sweatshirts with your logo, or whatever else, there are about a million companies that want to help you by providing a generic product to use as your own.

I find white-labeling a bit sad. It’s outright saying that we can expect companies to no longer come up with and market their own products. And it exemplifies the idea of a money grab. Rather than come up with inventive ideas, companies just use the model out there, and slap their label on it. The whole reason all those vapes look exactly the same? Because they are. They come from just a few manufacturers, and then get used by every emerging company looking to get in the industry. But such is the standard today for big business. The brand you love most, is sometimes no different then the product next to it on a shelf.

With all the issues in the cannabis industry, and the difficulty in making money, it’s not shocking that companies will reach for whatever they can. And with the industry being a bit flimsy in some cases, this means not putting in more money than necessary. White-labeling a product gets a company out of the R&D of making a product, and the testing, and ensuring that it meets standards. But it also means that everything we’re sold is the same.

This is truly one of the break off points between many high quality and low quality companies and products. Those actually in it to get you something good, or that offer something specialized or different, are the ones putting in the money to make it happen. It says a lot for the market in general that this emerging cannabis trend is one that generalizes the entire industry.

Conclusion

Last year I remember seeing several companies doing custom gummy molds, or offering products to neutralize smoke in the air. I saw less – or none – of that this year. Cannabis trends tend to come and go depending on where its thought a profit is possible, and if there isn’t one, the trend disappears. Vapes have grown (square is in), papers will likely always be big (now flavored with terpenes and/or chemicals), white-labeling is all the rage, and cultivation is key for its industrial and personal appeal. What new trends will pop up next year? We’ll have to wait and see.

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Hawaii’s Finest

Hawaii can proudly tout itself as a geographic destination synonymous with a long-standing cannabis culture. But for Big Island Grown (BIG), a legacy of growing crops goes well beyond pot.

Big Island Grown has a deep history rooted in agriculture,” says co-founder and CEO Jaclyn Moore. “The location of our production center was once home to sugarcane, evolved into the largest banana farm in North America, and is now home to our state-of-the-art cannabis facility. The farming styles have evolved as we’re much more conscious of the land and the community that we serve and work within. We aim to revive a farming community that will last for generations to come.”

BIG’s agricultural background earned them a license as a manufacturer and dispensary on the Big Island of Hawaii, hence the name.

Maui Girl bred by Joey Green for Greyskull Seeds | PHOTO Big Island Grown

As a vertically integrated company, Moore and co-founder Dylan Shropshire had to become experts across a wide range of operations, with a current team of pharmacists, farmers, artists, caregivers and coders, many of whom are also patients. They believe that the team’s collective passion for both plant and patient results in the highest-grade cannabis and patient service that can be found anywhere in Hawaii, and possibly beyond, at an accessible price.  

“With the long history of cannabis cultivation on the Island, our team works tirelessly to showcase the best of local genetics, and elevate the breeders, artists, farmers and local businesses that contribute to Big Island’s cannabis culture,” Moore says.

BIG now has three shops throughout the island in Kona, Hilo and Waimea.

“It doesn’t take long before staff knows you by name; recall your product preferences and provide the scoops on product drops based on the effects you seek,” Moore says.

Much like our team, our patients quickly become an integral part of our ohana (family), and we rely on their very honest and quick feedback. Big Island regulars genuinely know quality and are quite vocal about it.

The company’s Patient Attendants (commonly known as budtenders) are integral to supporting BIG’s company pillars of education and customer service. They educate patients on new strains, formulations, tech and even the team members behind the products they love. 

Strain: Tangie

“Patient Attendants, as we call them, are very compassionate, patient-focused individuals,” Moore says. “They’re committed to nurturing relationships with those they encounter daily.

The triumvirate of dispensaries is also matched by an impressive 35,000-square-foot growing facility, all of which is environmentally controlled to cultivate high-quality indoor flower. Although Hawaii is known to grow remarkable outdoor cannabis with its long solar window and abundance of fresh water, BIG’s indoor grow all but guarantees safety from humidity, bouts of severe weather and even the occasional volcanic eruption. 

Maui Girl Concentrate

They’re also currently in the process of expanding the facility in preparation for adult-use cannabis, which will include an additional 9,000 square feet of flower, larger processing area and a commercial kitchen.

BIG’s growing methods are equally as impressive, utilizing a potting system that yields zero waste when washing and recycling, all while creating zero disturbance to the root systems during transplanting. All of their water supply comes from a volcanic spring, which is fed from a plantation-constructed water reservoir.

 Co-Founder and CEO, Dr. Jaclyn Moore and Co-Founder and COO, Dylan Shropshire

“Our team is made of many who were born and/or raised in Hawaii with generations of Hawaii cannabis cultivation experience,” Shropshire says. “Growing on the most desolate chain of islands in the world creates a series of challenges that places sustainability at the forefront of all decision making.”

With an energy cost in Hawaii that’s by far the most expensive in the country at more than 40 cents a kilowatt hour, BIG works to offset this hurdle with a rooftop of nearly 700 solar panels.

Strain: Maui Girl

“We ultimately decided on Fohse [lights] because of their attention to detail and how they’re pushing innovation in the space,” Shropshire says. “They’re the highest quality LED grow lights in the industry in our opinion. They also are constantly working with growers in collaboration to improve their products. With the extremely high energy costs in Hawaii, we have to be as efficient as possible when selecting lights and we believe Fohse is the best of the best.”

This story was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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Who Grows the Most Cannabis in the World?

The cannabis plant grows in all corners of the world. However, with varying laws in many nations, it’s hard to know where it grows the most. Some countries have legalized cannabis entirely, others have only allowed for it to be used medically, whilst some have banned it completely. Is it reasonable to presume that the nations who have legalized cannabis grow it the most? Or is it actually more likely to flourish in the vast continents of Asia or Africa, where the substance is usually dealt with more strictly? The place that grows the most cannabis may be somewhere you wouldn’t expect. Let’s find out.

Cannabis Growing Countries

In ancient times, there were a few countries and continents that were known for a mass growth of cannabis. In fact, it is believed that the first plant was found at the bottom of the Himalayas – in Asia. It is thought that 28 million years ago, on the eastern Tibetan Plateau, weed began evolving. It was then used as hemp by China and other Asian nations. There was also a great deal of it found in the Americas, Middle East and Africa which, as the empires took hold, caused it to make its way to European shores.

Before this period, it would have been right to assume that the most cannabis in the world would be found in these areas. However, in recent times, the world’s view on the substance has changed. Although the majority of the world banning it in 20th century, in recent times the global mindset has shifted. There are now 21 states in the US that have legalized cannabis, with another 10 decriminalizing its use. Canada has also fully allowed the use of weed. With these legal changes, has come a brand new market, where these nations are now openly growing the plant domestically. The North American weed market has been valued at $12.4 billion and is predicted to rise by 15% every year from 2022-2030. 

In addition, Europe is also steadily on the cannabis rise. Luxembourg and Malta – two proud but small nations – were the first to take the legalization leap. However, in bigger news, the next country to join them seems to be the global superpower of Germany. BBC news writes: 

“Germany’s coalition government has agreed on a plan to legalise recreational cannabis use among adults. Possession of up to 30g (1oz) for personal use would be allowed. Licensed shops and pharmacies would sell it. The plan has yet to be approved in parliament – but also receive the green light by the European Commission. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the plan could become law in 2024.”

When this officially comes into place, it would be a massive push for the rest of the major European countries to follow in their footsteps. This global shift of cannabis laws has begun what can only be described as an arms race – but for weed. The next step is for these locations to create their own successful cannabis market, competing with their own domestic production of the plant. So with this recent shift, how can we know who now produces the most cannabis in the world? 

Recreational Cannabis

There are varying types of cannabis cultivation. Some nations grow it uncontrollably and illegally, for recreational purposes. Whilst others have huge legal medicinal markets that are reasonably new. The first sector we will look at is the recreational one. Who grows the most in the world?

Morocco 

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime claims that Morocco is the largest producer of psychoactive cannabis in the world. In other words, the nation that grows the most weed containing the THC cannabinoid. There are just over 70,000 hectares that are taken up by Morocco’s cannabis ventures, and 70% of Europe’s hash came from this nation in 2003. In fact, in 2021, 40,000 tons of hashish derived from Morocco. However, it’s important to note that recreational weed is illegal here, despite it being widely grown. But a recent law change in 2021 has allowed the cultivation of the substance for medicinal purposes, protecting the farmers from illegal activity. 

Mexico 

Mexico is a close second, with many believing that it will overtake Morocco imminently. Cannabis has a grand history in this country, with the word ‘marijuana’ originating there. In the 16th century, the plant was introduced to Mexico by the Spanish as hemp. Whilst cannabis is not completely legal in this country, there seems to be a shift in thought. It is this shift that could lead Mexico to becoming number one. Earlier in 2022, as the Mexicanist reports, litigious change began happening:

“On May 11, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) ruled that it is unconstitutional to criminalize the possession of more than 5 grams of cannabis unless it can be proven that it is not for personal use.”

Afghanistan 

Afghanistan also deserves a mention. It was the largest producer around 10 years ago, with 20,000 hectares being dedicated to cultivating cannabis. The indica plant is native here, and has been growing for centuries. There is reported to be 1,500 to 3,500 tonnes of weed shipped overseas every year from Afghanistan, which makes them at least the largest exporter. In addition, like Morocco, Afghanistan is incredibly popular for its strains of hash – with 10% of the world’s produce coming from here. 

Medical Cannabis 

Alternatively you have the medical cannabis sector. Now this one is up for debate and there are varying reports, but let’s take a look at the leading nations when it comes to this. What you will notice is that newer countries – with less history in cannabis – begin to rise up in this category. 


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USA

The USA is definitely one of the main nations leading the charge when it comes to cannabis legalization. With 21 out of 50 states having legalized weed, they have made a global stance. With this, has come a booming medical and recreational market. It is believed that their market was worth around $10.8 billion last year, and will rise to $13.2 billion this year. This is then predicted to hit $40 billion in 2030. These are record numbers. Leafly reported this year that the US farmers grew around 2,834 metric tons of weed. 37 out of the 50 states in America have legalized medical cannabis, meaning that the majority of the US are welcoming to it. It is no surprise then that, with a nation of 331 million people, they would be growing some of the most medical cannabis in the world. 

UK

You probably did not expect to see the United Kingdom anywhere near this list, in any way whatsoever. However, a report in 2019 claimed that the UK – with its modest population of 67 million – was the largest producer of medical cannabis. The Independent wrote:

“Britain is the world’s largest producer of legal cannabis, a new report from the United Nations has revealed. Ninety five tonnes of marijuana was produced in the UK in 2016 for medicinal and scientific use, accounting for 44.9 percent of the world total, its International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) found.”

Medical cannabis has been legal in the UK since 2018, but recreational use is still banned. With the rest of Europe beginning to change their tune, it is inevitable that, one day, the UK do legalize the entirety of the substance. However, this could take a while. Nonetheless, it is a constant surprise to citizens that their country could be the largest producer of medicinal cannabis. This is especially because there are only around 6,000 people in the UK who are able to access a cannabis prescription, despite the fact that 1.5 million people need it. Yet 320 tons of legal weed was produced by the UK in 2019, accounting for 75% of the global total at the time. This proves, yet again, that many nations are more interested in the financial side of cannabis, rather than the medical benefits that it can offer their own people. 

Conclusion

It is hard to pin down, for certain, which country grows the most cannabis in the world. This changes and shifts year by year, with varying reports and varying legal alterations. However, these nations are definitely leading the charge in their sectors – for good reasons or bad. It is likely that, as time goes on, more countries will legalize cannabis in order to benefit from the huge amount of market worth there is. Germany is on the rise, Canada is doing well and – of course – the superpower of India is naturally a huge producer. The game is on. Who will become the next largest cultivator of cannabis?

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First Medical Cannabis Crop Harvest Begins in North Carolina

According to The Charlotte Observer, the cultivation site is located in the eastern part of the state in The Qualla Boundary. In addition to beginning its first harvest on Nov. 18, the tribe also plans to open the largest medical cannabis dispensary in the state sometime in 2023, which will be located in an old building previously used for bingo. “I’m really proud of my tribe taking this step, one with the betterment of this community in mind,” said general manager of Qualla Enterprises LLC, Forrest Parker.

The cannabis business is expected to create 400 to 500 new jobs (with “several hundred” applications already received for various positions), which will increase the EBCI’s total employment number to 7,500. “Most special to me is the employment opportunity,” Parker said. “We can teach them skills they can use for the rest of their lives in what is a very well-paying industry.” Over the summer, the EBCI employed about 40 people to work on cultivation, with about 80% of them members of the tribe.

The EBCI’s Tribal Council approved Ordinance No. 539, which legalized medical cannabis on tribal land in August 2021. Far beyond the state’s progress on medical cannabis legislation, the Tribal Council saw cannabis as a benefit for medical patients. “The Council’s approval of a medical marijuana ordinance is a testament to the changing attitudes toward legal marijuana and a recognition of the growing body of evidence that supports cannabis as medicine, particularly for those with debilitating conditions like cancer and chronic pain,” said Principal Chief Richard Sneed.

According to the EBCI cannabis website, the tribe will control all aspects of production. “It all begins as a seed…and develops into the plant that is the basis to all cannabis. EBCI Farms will be the source for all of its products that are sold to the public. Everything from seed to sale begins here,” the website states. Currently, the business plans to produce cannabis flower, pre-rolls, edibles, concentrates, and topicals.

“It’s a vertical market. We have to plant it. We have to cultivate it. We have to harvest it. We have to process it. We have to package it and move through all of that network of product and get it there. It’s a lot of people,” Parker told ABC13 News.

The ECBI also has its own Cannabis Control Board, which consists of five healthcare and law enforcement experts, to manage the tribe’s cannabis regulations. Current rules dictate that non-tribe members may purchase up to one ounce of cannabis per day, but not to exceed more than six ounces in a month. This also extends to a limit of 2,500 milligrams of THC in products per day, but not more than 10,000 milligrams in a month.

The New York-based Oneida Indian Nation announced in September that it would launch a seed-to-sale cannabis business sometime in 2023. Also in New York, the Saint Regis (Akwesasne) Mohawk Tribe partnered with actor Jim Belushi to open a dispensary on Oct. 27, called Belushi’s Farm Akwesasne.

Additionally, the Seneca Nation of Indians announced that its building a cannabis dispensary in the city of Niagara Falls, New York, which is slated to open in February 2023 as well. “After extensive research and planning, the Seneca Nation is excited to create a new, Nation-owned business in the growing and competitive cannabis market,” said Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong Sr.

There are many tribe-owned and operated cannabis dispensaries throughout the country already, including Mountain Source Santa Ysabel operated by the Iipay Nation Tribe (located northeast of San Diego), to the Paiute-owned NuWu Cannabis Marketplace in Nevada, and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe’s Joint Rivers dispensary in Washington State.

The Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association (ICIA) hosted the National Indigenous Cannabis Policy Summit on Nov. 15-16 in Washington, D.C., which covered a variety of topics in relation to create solutions to common challenges that tribes face in the industry. “The Summit brings together Tribal leaders, elected and government officials, business, healthcare, veterans groups, and advocacy organizations to provide solutions to the most pressing challenges and opportunities growing for Indian Country,” the event website states.

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High Times and Moxie Join Forces in California

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

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

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

Deal Includes Nearly 50,000 Square Feet Of Cultivation

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

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

Moxie Is A Leading Cannabis Brand

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

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

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

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Vintage Cannabis: Explained

In today’s California cannabis market, most dispensaries have a three-month shelf-life limit for flowers. That is three months from packing date—not from harvest. The reason given is that customers don’t buy “out-of-date” weed. 

Maybe the retailers are not storing the flowers under the proper conditions, or maybe the flower was bucked and trimmed or packed in a hot room. So, after three months in the store, the product has deteriorated to a point that it is no longer sellable. Perhaps the real reason is improper handling along the route of the supply chain. Maybe the retailer just wanted to move it off the shelf. Some buyers won’t even buy flowers more than four months after harvest.

Whatever! To my mind cannabis flower isn’t really ready to smoke until four or five months post-harvest. And most of the OG growers I talk to in Nor Cal agree. Frenchy Cannoli would have agreed, too. We often talked excitedly about making hash from aged or vintage cannabis, how it had a different flavor and different effect. 

Swami smoking. PHOTO David Robert Elliott

Back in the Hippie days, we never got fresh green weed—even after it was dried and trimmed, it always took several months to get here from Mexico, Colombia or Thailand. By the time you bought your lid and smoked it, the pot had aged for many months. Granted, we had to separate the stems and seeds, but it was still great smoke to inspire or chill out, like the best Panama Red, Acapulco Gold, Santa Marta Gold or Thai sticks.

Fast forward to 2022 and we are drying our own cannabis flowers for two weeks to a month in our wooden timber frame barn. The barn is nestled under towering Doug fir trees which keep it in cool shadow all year long. The autumn air here in the Emerald Triangle tends to be dry, especially during drought years, and that helps maintain an ideal temperature and humidity inside the barn.

The normal two-to-four-week drying period is just the beginning of the sequence which leads to vintage cannabis. This all is a rather complex process, not yet fully understood. 

The Benefits of Well-Aged Cannabis 

Fresh, dried flower will have definite spikes of pungent aromas, which can obscure the subtler layers underneath. The best small batch craft cannabis is carefully slow-dried, aged slightly and brought to a point of stabilization, under proper climate control. The slow aging process broadens out the aroma profile, rounding off the spikes and allowing other subtler fragrances to appear. Under the proper conditions, this biologic stabilization process takes about four to five months from harvest and in some cases even longer. 

For the next six months to a year, something mysterious and magical happens within the buds, such that the flower realizes the full breadth of its potential and reveals its true nature. The sacred herb has now become Vintage! Ready to bring its full benefits to those who consume her.

The flowers best suited to be aged for Vintage cannabis, are biologically—not chemically—grown in living soil, out under the sun, the way the Gods and our ancestors intended them to be. And they must have been harvested at their peak, then dried, manicured, aged and packaged, as well as shipped and stored in optimum, climate-controlled conditions. 

If packaged in a proper container and stored under ideal conditions, the flowers can maintain full vintage quality for at least a year, if the jar is not opened.

The Changing Compounds of Cannabis

Strawberry Cheesecake buds. PHOTO Brian Parks

How does this magic come about? and why does it take so long to create Vintage cannabis?

Mature cannabis flowers can produce as many as a thousand compounds. However, we focus on just a half dozen of the 150 cannabinoids possibly present in the flower, because those few are the most abundant, most potent and they are the only ones the testing labs report. 

In the living plant, the main cannabinoid is the so called precursor CBGA molecule, which transforms into the other cannabinoids, such as CBD, presenting in the mature female after harvest. Technically, the harvested plant is dead, but it’s biologically active for some time, as there’s still a great deal of moisture in the leaves, stems and flowers, which causes many compounds to undergo changes.

One of these changes is from CBGA to THCA in the harvested flower, but THCA can also change to THC through age and light, as well as heat. In addition, as time increases from harvest, the amount of CBN is said to increase, which is usually thought to come about through the degradation of THC. More probable, however, is the slow change of many different cannabinoid molecules degrading in the direction of CBN.

There are also numerous volatile or aromatic compounds. Some are only produced by the living plant and begin to evaporate or fade as soon as the plant is cut. Most prominent are a half dozen terpenes out of a possible 50, which produce the loudest smells and therefore are the only ones being tested. Nevertheless, scientists have found numerous other volatile compounds in cannabis, which together create the “nose” of the flower. 

In addition to terpenes, which account for perhaps 25% of the fragrance, there are other “aromatics” such as flavonoids, phenols, thiols, esters, ketones, benzaldehydes, alcohols and one of the more recent discoveries: volatile sulfur compounds. Sulfur compounds have been proposed as the volatiles that produce the gassy and skunk odors in cannabis.

As the moisture in the flower evaporates, many things happen. Some of the mono terpenes off gas, and others polymerize into longer chains and become bi-terpenes or sesqui-terpenes which do not volatilize as easily. The slow drying and aging aims to stabilize the changes in the terpenes. Many aromas can be preserved or sealed in by proper drying and stabilization of the harvested flower.

Another change taking place is the “oxidation” of the chlorophyll molecules, which break down through the opening of carbon links in the top of the ring allowing two molecules of oxygen to attach themselves. This a three-step process, taking some time, after which the chlorophyll no longer is said to “fluoresce,” meaning it no longer glows green. This is what happens to the fall leaves every year, and to cannabis after harvest.

The True Potential of Genetics

The point is, that if it is known that chlorophyll, terpenes and the main cannabinoids are slowly changing during and after drying, one must also assume that most of the other hundreds of compounds are also changing, especially the volatiles. As the residual moisture slowly decreases, this biological activity likewise decreases until the flower reaches a point of stabilization, three to five months after harvest.

Only at this stage have the flowers fully realized the potential of their genetics in response to their terroir. Only Vintage cannabis flower truly reveals and fulfills its destiny to serve, heal, entertain and inspire those who consume her.

So, choose some of your favorite most aromatic flowers, stash them away for a year in a dark glass container in a dark, cool place. Now your Vintage cannabis is finally ready to smoke.

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New York Loosens Strict Testing Requirements for Cannabis Cultivators

Regulators in New York this week lifted a stringent requirement that cannabis growers in the state had decried as an “existential threat” to their operations. 

NY Cannabis Insider reports that the state’s Office of Cannabis Management on Tuesday sent an email to cultivators to note that it had “updated its Laboratory Testing Limits document to remove the pass/fail limits associated with the Total Viable Aerobic Bacteria Count and Total Yeast and Mold Count for unextracted cannabis products (e.g. cannabis flower, pre-roll, etc.).”

New York cannabis growers lamented that the testing limits for bacteria, yeast, and mold were far too onerous, and jeopardized their ability to get the product in front of customers. 

The state gave conditional licenses to cultivators earlier this year to begin growing the first adult-use cannabis crop outdoors. 

But growing outdoors made those testing limits difficult to attain. 

“This is a step in the right direction for the success of this new market,” said Aaron Leentjes, a conditional cultivator and co-founder and owner of UNIFI Cannabis, as quoted by NY Cannabis Insider. “Because growers were not given an option to cultivate indoors, it’s nice to see OCM adjusting their testing guidelines to be more in line with the realities of outdoor cultivation.”

In its email sent on Tuesday, the Office of Cannabis Management said that, although testing will still be conducted, “there will not be a defined limit for unextracted cannabis products in the adult-use program.”

“It is the responsibility of the licensee to consider these results and any impact to the stability and expiration dating of the product, as well as any risks to the health of consumers,” the OCM said in the email, as quoted by NY Cannabis Insider

Recipients of the first two-year “conditional cultivator” licenses were given the green light to grow up to an acre’s worth of weed outdoors, although they were also permitted to keep some plants in greenhouses. 

“There’s a market that we’re building for small players, for big players, for medium-sized players, for family businesses, for big corporations as well,” Chris Alexander, executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management, said of the first round of cultivation this summer. “We do think it will be sufficient to provide that initial supply to our dispensary locations that we get up and running.” 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is facing re-election next week, said last month that the first state-regulated marijuana dispensaries are still on track to open by the end of this year.

“We expect the first 20 dispensaries to be open by the end of this year,” Hochul said at the time. “And then every month or so, another 20. So, we’re not going to just jam it out there. It’s going to work and be successful.”

In that same interview, Hochul took credit for getting the legal marijuana program up and running after she took over for former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last August. 

“Talk about the rollout being jammed up,” she said. “When I became governor, nothing had happened. Nothing. It was shut down because there was a battle between the administration and the legislature over who would be the executive director and the chairs of the cannabis review boards,” she said. “So, I was given a lot of credit because within one week, I named people. I got things going. So, when I speak to people about being part of this industry, the first thing they say is ‘thank you.’ Because otherwise we could still be waiting and waiting and waiting, even for the most basic steps to be taken. So we’ve been moving along quickly.”

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How to Harvest Sungrown Cannabis

Up in the Mendocino Highlands, harvest typically starts in late September or early October, depending on the cultivar. Some girls want to come in early, and some may stretch it out until early November. Here at Swami Select, we had an Ethiopian Sativa one year that finished after Thanksgiving—not what you want because of the increased likelihood of fog, rain or frost that late in the season.

This is the tensest time of year, because there are still so many ways that you could lose some or all of the crop. In the old days, the paranoia was palpable as October arrived. While the crop ripened, every day that you waited to cut increased the chances of getting busted by the cops or being robbed by “marijuana rustlers.”

Potential Threats

Franklin putting up the frost cloth. PHOTO Nikki Lastreto

We still need to be vigilant for other threats such as russet mites, aphids and latent hop syndrome. If the rains start in September, or the mornings bring heavy fog, mold and powdery mildew may develop. For the latter, foliar spraying with hydrogen peroxide can help, but the best preventative is spraying with a fermentation of horsetail starting in June.

Frost can also be a threat. The later into October and November the harvest extends, the more likely a heavy frost will hit, especially in mountain valleys. Most hardy plants can survive one early morning frost if it is only in the mid-twenties, but two or three frosts will kill many plants. Be prepared to cover each plant with frost cloth and they will survive.

These days in California and Oregon, outdoor crops face an additional threat from wildfires, which means you need to have an evacuation plan for your crew, plus a survival plan for the crop. An automated irrigation system will keep the girls alive if you need to bail.

If the crop gets dusted with white ash from the fires, use a leaf blower to blow it off the leaves and then spray with diluted hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). If the smoke at harvest is dense for days, after cutting and weighing each plant, dip each branch in dilute H2O2 and then dip in clean water; then hang to dry outside before bringing the branches into the drying room. 

Yellow leafing the plants is paramount, and on the day before harvest, pull off most of the sun leaves from the plants you will take. As the days get shorter, keep cutting back on water, unless it’s super-hot, and stop feeding or using compost teas a week to ten days before harvest.  

The Science (and Art) of Harvesting Cannabis

Swami talking to plants at harvest muscle testing. PHOTO Nikki Lastreto

Assuming that you’ve done all the preparations mentioned in the previous article, you now must devise the exact procedure of harvest. This involves several steps: 

  • Deciding the exact moment to cut each plant. 
  • Whether to take the whole plant or make two or three cuttings. 
  • How to transport the cut plants to the drying facility. 
  • For legal growers in California, how to weigh and record the wet weight immediately after cutting.  
  • How to keep track of each individual plant and not lose its Metrc tag.

Every farmer has their method of deciding when to cut. We harvest in the dark— very early in the morning—so that we finish that day’s cutting before first light. This ensures the maximum saturation of all the aromatic compounds in the plant, because they off-gas during the day.

When it’s clear that the “girls” are close to harvest, as our crew is yellow leafing, I literally ask each plant individually if it’s ready to come in. With no judgement preferences as to who should be cut next, I use kinesiology (aka muscle testing) to determine who gets cut the next day. 

Strong muscle resistance is “Yes” and weak is “No.” I touch a leaf on a plant and ask: “Are you readyto come in tomorrow?” Strong response. Then I ask again: “Do you want to come in tomorrow?”  Strong response. Then a third time I ask: “Would you rather stay for a few more days?” Weak response. The answer to the first two inquiries is “Yes!” and to the third is “No!” so I mark that plant for harvest and write down the number of its bed on a list for the morning’s harvest. If on the contrary, the answers are “No,” No,” and “Yes,” then I leave the plant for a later day.

The crew starts at about 5 a.m., donning warm clothes and gloves. With head lamps on and clippers in hand, we take the whole plant, full branch by full branch. That is, unless it’s a very small plant and then we just cut and hang the whole thing. The stalk is left in the bed until springtime.

Harvest Day

Some farmers cut just the top 10 to 12 inches off each branch and leave the rest to mature for another week or two. We don’t do that because it’s difficult to keep track of two cuttings at different times to report to Metrc.

We usually cut about 20 plants on each harvest day and cut for three days in a row. To transport them to the barn we use a 6×12 foot trailer, which I hook up to the car and park next to the garden gate the night prior. 

When we arrive at the garden in the morning, we split into two teams. One goes around to the designated plants and cuts away the trellises by clipping the nylon zip ties and pulling away the horizontal bamboo sticks. The other crew picks the plants closest to the garden gate, cuts away the trellises and proceeds to harvest the whole plant. When the first crew is finished cutting away the trellises on the designated 20 plants, they switch over to harvesting also. 

Transporting the Harvest

cannabis plants after harvest
PHOTO Nikki Lastreto

We have 20 clean blue tarps, one for each plant. In the dark, the tarp is laid on the ground next to the chosen plant with the cut branches gently laid on the tarp. When finished, we use carabiners to hook the tarp grommets together to make a large pouch. For legal growers, the carabiner is the place to attach the blue Metrc tag, which must stay with each plant until it becomes a batch. 

The tarp is carried to the trailer, and when full, we drive the trailer to the back of the barn, unload and go back for more. To prevent any crushing of the plants, we are careful not to pile them up too high in the trailer.

The carabiner holding the tarp together also easily goes over the hook on the scale for weighing the whole wet plant, required for legal California cultivators. We attach a 4×6 beam between two trees, hang the scale in the middle and use a small ladder to reach the scale. Besides the weight, we note the Metrc number, the bed number, and the cultivar of each plant.  

Drying Time

Swami cleans cannabis plants
Swami cleans cannabis plants before drying. PHOTO Nikki Lastreto

After weighing, the tarp is carried into the barn and the plants are hung on nylon netting hung from the ceiling, and the blue Metrc tag is attached to the netting.

By the time the last plant is in the barn, the sun is just starting to come up and we head to the house for a hearty breakfast of pancakes or cheese omelets. After breakfast, we return to the garden and gather up the bamboo trellis sticks to save for next year.

Stay tuned for the next article about proper drying and curing methods. Happy Harvest!

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Canadian Government To Review Cannabis Legalization

Canada’s Liberal Party government launched a review of the country’s legalization of cannabis on Thursday, four years after the country became the world’s second to legalize marijuana for adults. Canada legalized marijuana with the passage of the Cannabis Act in 2018, five years after Uruguay became the first country to legalize cannabis for adults in 2013.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said at a press conference on Thursday that the review will help legislators and other policymakers determine if cannabis legalization is meeting the needs and expectations of Canadians.

“Through this useful, inclusive and evidence-driven review, we will strengthen the act so that it meets the needs of all Canadians while continuing to displace the illicit market. I look forward to receiving the panel’s findings,” Duclos said.

The Cannabis Act mandated that a review of cannabis legalization be conducted three years after the law was passed. The review, which is being initiated one year later than required by the legislation, is required to study the impact of cannabis legalization on Indigenous people, the cultivation of cannabis in housing complexes, and the health and cannabis use patterns of young people.

“Our government legalized cannabis to protect the health and safety of Canadians, particularly minors, and to displace the illegal market,” added Duclos.

Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, a co-chair of the all-party cannabis caucus, said that the review can help reveal the shortcomings of the groundbreaking Cannabis Act, which made Canada the first country in the northern hemisphere to legalize recreational marijuana.

“We have been, in many ways, world leaders in advancing sensible drug policy and legalization and regulation of cannabis is an example of that,” said Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who co-chairs the all-party cannabis caucus, at a press conference. “But we didn’t get it perfect, we didn’t get it exactly right for the first time.”

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett agreed, noting the review is designed to focus in part on the mental health implications of cannabis legalization, particularly among the young.

“Young people are at increased risk of experiencing harms from cannabis such as mental health problems, including dependence and disorders related to anxiety and depression,” said Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett. “While a lot of progress has been made on the implementation of the Cannabis Act and its dual objectives of protecting public health and maintaining public safety, we need to assess the work that has been done and learn how and where to adjust to meet these goals.”

Protecting Youth and Displacing the Illicit Market

When Canada’s Liberal government passed cannabis legalization in 2018, the stated goals of the Cannabis Act included protecting the health of Canadians and displacing the country’s illicit marijuana market. The review will help officials determine how effectively the legislation is meeting those goals so far.

“We are going to displace the illicit marketplace. It’s only a matter of time and you are going to, over the next three years, five years and 10 years, see those numbers shift,” said Erskine-Smith. “The legal marketplace will be where Canadians continue to turn.”

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce expressed support for the review, saying that the comprehensive evaluation would help foster the growth of the regulated cannabis market.

“However, to effectively displace the illicit market and protect the public health and safety of all Canadians, law enforcement, businesses, industry and all levels of government will need to continue to work together,” the Canadian Chamber of Commerce National Cannabis Working Group said in a statement.

The mandated review has been expanded to include an investigation of the social and environmental impacts of the Cannabis Act, the legalization and regulation of medical marijuana and the effects of reform on minority communities and women. Erskine-Smith said that including the additional areas of focus in the review is responsible for the government’s failure to meet the three-year deadline specified in the legislation.

“Getting the scope of the review right was much more important than the timeline,” he said. “If we’d followed the legislation to a ‘T’ — both in relation to the three-year timeline, but also the considerations that are set out in the legislation — we would have missed a major opportunity to get this right.”

The review will be conducted by a panel of experts led by Morris Rosenberg, a former deputy minister of justice. The government has not yet named the remaining members of the review panel.

The panel will hear from members of the public, government officials, Indigenous groups, youth, cannabis industry representatives, and medical cannabis users. The panel will also hear from leaders in public health, substance abuse, law enforcement, and health care.

“I look forward to working with the panel and to providing evidence-based advice to ministers to strengthen this particularly important piece of legislation and advance public policy in this area in Canada,” Rosenberg said Thursday.

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