Brand Spotlight: Moon Made Farms

“I’ve always been somebody who was a minority among minorities, being marginalized and also being attracted to marginalized subcultures. Rock ‘n’ roll is where I found my family, and in cannabis, I found another family.” Inspired by the “female expression of the most powerful plant on Earth,” her words, Tina Gordon of Moon Made Farms carved out a cannabis brand, and a name for herself, in Humboldt County, California. But it hasn’t always been this way.

“I was living in San Francisco for most of my adult life, and during that time, I was living a very underground lifestyle with art, music and playing in bands, releasing records, van touring, that kind of thing, for about 20 years,” Gordon said. “I was in a bunch of different punk and metal bands; I did a mobile soundstage, that kind of thing. And I used to do art shows, photography, video. I really dedicated myself to having a full, creative life, to live lean, and to live life to the fullest.”

However, after two decades living that lifestyle, things began to transition. After going through a band break-up and a career shift, she was looking for where to go next. Suddenly, Gordon found herself spending more and more time in Humboldt County instead of the Bay Area, first filming a documentary, then even dating someone in the area and realizing she wanted to spend all of her time there. She also fell in love with growing the cannabis plant, something she never would have tried in her previous life.

“Moon Made Farms acknowledges the feminine in this plant, the moon being a symbol of femininity. The moon has a regular schedule with subtle changes every, single night. So, sun-grown isn’t just about the sun; it’s about the moon and the night cycle as well.”

“I didn’t even have houseplants in San Francisco,” she admitted. “I was really urban. And then when I went through my first season in Humboldt, and I saw this plant grow from seed to full expression, I was completely captivated, and it shifted my awareness to the natural world and how incredible it is. The sensory experience of growing this plant changed my life.”

As she began listening to the earth and the plants she was growing, she started to realize how sacred the relationship between cannabis and grower truly is. Seeing how cannabis thrives when given rain-caught water, fresh air, full sunlight and all the other natural elements that can be granted through outdoor growing in the Emerald Triangle, Gordon knew she had a new obsession. Now, instead of making music and art, she’s all about growing the juiciest, most gorgeous buds. But she never left the social justice element behind.

Gordon started learning permaculture regenerative techniques and working them into her growing to develop more sustainable practices around producing cannabis. As an advocate for outdoor growing, she is always trying to learn more. And as a social justice advocate, she always tries to pull in queer folks, women and other marginalized people to work on her farm.

Photo Credit: Matthew Brightman

“I’ve always been somebody who was a minority among minorities, being marginalized and also being attracted to marginalized subcultures,” Gordon said. “Rock ‘n’ roll is where I found my family, and in cannabis, I found another family. And when something changes your life as much as cannabis, there is a responsibility to pay it forward, a responsibility to do activism work and social justice work and to help educate people about the true value of this plant.

Through education, she wants to make sure that the focus is on sun-grown and natural cannabis, a personal passion.

“Misconceptions about outdoor-grown flower are based on the industry standard,” she said.

“That started because of prohibition, when all the outdoor farmers were forced inside, so indoor farming became the industry standard. Now that we’re emerging out of prohibition, it just feels like the plant should go back outside. Now, during that time, some incredible advancements have happened. A lot has happened in the way of genetics and techniques around this plant, but I would love to see this plant go back outside, and for there to be extensive research done on the properties and potential of what this plant has to offer.

Photo Credit: Debra Keith

Now, Moon Made Farms is known on the market for producing quality, sungrown, sustainable cannabis that stands out from the rest, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and ethos that Gordon puts into her work. She’s also thrilled that she gets to revisit her musician days and sell merch for her farm, and she loves studying the growth cycle of the plant. As for the moon, to her, it’s a celebration of the feminine within the cannabis plant, the dark within the light.

“Moon Made Farms acknowledges the feminine in this plant, the moon being a symbol of femininity. The moon has a regular schedule with subtle changes every, single night. So, sun-grown isn’t just about the sun; it’s about the moon and the night cycle as well. This is a photosensitive plant. It’s sensitive to light. And that quality of light will affect the plant in every way, so one of the most important things about the plant being grown outside is that exposure to the night sky. And so, Moon Made Farms is acknowledging lunar farming techniques, an ancient way of cultivating all plants, as well as the symbol of the feminine that the moon represents.”

Read this story originally published in High Times July 2021 Issue in our archive.

The post Brand Spotlight: Moon Made Farms appeared first on High Times.

Petition Seeks Help Protecting Small Cannabis Farmers in the Emerald Triangle

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Ben Neff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After Harvest: From Drying to Selling Cannabis

The joys and challenges of being a small farm cannabis cultivator are myriad. Beginning in the spring, when we first “crack” our seeds in preparation for planting, the thrill is there. Each delicate little sprout is carefully placed in living soil, and for the following seven months, we have the supreme joy of watching those tiny shoots develop into glorious big girls, laden with luscious buds.

Naturally, there can be setbacks along the way, whether from climate, bugs, disease, predators or basic human errors. Generally, the pleasure overrides the problems. By autumn, the time comes to harvest the crop and begin the drying and curing process.

Drying and Curing Cannabis

Just when you think you are in the clear because the harvest is in the barn, now is when the conscious cultivator must really be aware. All too often we hear of farmers losing their entire crops to mold or mildew due to improper drying and curing. We also see many supply chain problems.

Once the cannabis is properly cured at the farm, it’s sent off to the processor for trimming and packaging, and it’s no longer in the cultivator’s control. During the long journey from garden to consumer, any number of issues can cause even the highest quality flowers to degrade.

Nevertheless, the first step after harvest is the proper drying, curing and bucking down of the cannabis. At the Swami Select farm, located in California’s Emerald Triangle, we hang our cannabis branches upside down on nylon netting for at least two weeks in the dark in our timber frame barn. The temperature and humidity should both hover just around 60 degrees to ensure proper drying. If it’s wet outside, we use dehumidifiers to maintain the humidity levels. We also have a fire burning in the wood stove when the outside temperatures dip too low, which also helps to control the humidity.

When the tiny stems break instead of bending, it tells us that the buds are dry enough. Then we gently take the branches down off the drying nets and place them on long sheets of unbleached Kraft paper, which are rolled up like burritos open at the top. We keep them stored in the barn, and after a few more days of careful observation, we roll up the top of the “burritos” so they are enclosed. When fully dried and ready for the curing process, we place the rolls into non-scented contractor bags and store them in the barn until ready to be bucked down.

Bucking Cannabis

A “turkey bag” of bucked cannabis.

Swami and I do our own bucking here at the ranch. Bucking means cutting the full buds off of the branches and removing any large fan leaves—the ones that you would never want to smoke because they have no “sugar” on them. We leave the smaller sugar leaves around the buds to protect them until the final trim when they become “trim shake.”

Once bucked down, the buds are placed in turkey bags (also known as “oven bags”) and then into large tubs which are labeled with the Metrc numbers of the plants inside. We are required to weigh the buds of each plant when they leave the ranch and report the weights to Metrc. We also have to report the weight of the stems and leaves that are cut away and put on the compost pile.

Processing and Packaging Cannabis

Loading up the Distro Van at Swami Select.

Finally, the time has arrived to send the girls off to school, or that’s what it feels like. After eight or nine months of carefully tending our precious plants, a large white unmarked van will show up at our ranch, and the tubs full of bucked flowers will be driven away. At this point, we have little control over their journey through the supply chain and pray the flowers are in good hands and not mistreated by the time the consumer receives them.

We used to trim and package it all at home, but now, because of Department of Cannabis Control regulations which prohibit commercial cannabis operations in residential dwellings, as well as city and county zoning ordinances and building codes, most farmers can no longer perform their own trimming and packaging. Instead, the flowers will be trimmed by a professional crew at a processing center that typically packages them as well.

When specifying hand-trimmed bud, many farmers complain that no matter how much they instruct the trimmers to only hold the buds by the stem to keep the trichomes intact, many ignore these instructions. Some processors use a machine to buck or remove leaves and then do a hand finish in order to claim that the cannabis is “hand-trimmed.” However, this treatment can knock off the trichrome heads as well. Packaging is also a delicate operation which involves properly weighing out and placing the buds into their final jars or bags for sale.

Once the flowers have been packaged, the distributor will keep them in storage while waiting for test results and order placements. To maintain the quality of the flower and prevent it from becoming too dry, the temperature/humidity parameters during both the operations and storage phases are critical. How many storage areas, on a boiling hot California summer day, for example, are truly kept at 60 degrees or cooler? Not many is what we’ve discovered. How many delivery vans are refrigerated properly? It’s rare to find a processor and distributor who will give the flower the same love and care as the farmer would have.

Maintaining Control of Your Craft Cannabis

Nikki gives instruction to the Seed2Soul Trim Crew.

Even with a perfect curing operation, once the flowers leave the farmer, there’s not much the farmers can do to protect them. Hence, by the time consumers purchase their flower, it may no longer be at optimum quality. This dilemma is a very real problem.

So, what is the solution? For starters, farmers must keep as close an eye on their processor/distributor/retailer as possible to ensure proper trimming and packaging techniques, as well as monitoring transport and storage conditions. This can be a real challenge considering many farms are miles away in distant rural communities.

The other option is to invest in a microbusiness license which allows growing, processing and packaging at the farm, as well as a being your own distributor with a retail location or non-storefront retail delivery license. But this is an expensive proposition; it requires commercial buildings and extensive security measures and ADA access, as well as a delivery vehicle and driver. Several small farmers are considering alternative ways to form collectives to make it more possible.

The old days of just growing great weed, trimming it at home, and driving a few pounds in turkey bags down to the city are long gone. But that doesn’t mean that craft farmers, who insist on the highest quality, cannot still maintain control. It is a challenge, but well worth it.

The post After Harvest: From Drying to Selling Cannabis appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Best-Of Picks: The Harvest Ball 2021

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

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

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

Courtesy of Harvest Ball

Sun-grown, Not Schwag

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

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

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

Courtesy of Harvest Ball

Into the Triangle… Kind Of

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

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

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

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

Harvest Ball
Courtesy of Harvest Ball

Breakfast of Champions

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

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

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

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

Harvest Ball
Courtesy of Harvest Ball

Not in NYC Anymore

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

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

Harvest Ball
Courtesy of Harvest Ball

The Best Indoor Bud and Outdoor Booths

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

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

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

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

Harvest Ball
Courtesy of Harvest Ball

Instagram Comes to Life

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

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

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

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

Harvest Ball
Courtesy of Harvest Ball

Small Farms Initiative

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

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

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

Courtesy of Jesse Hershberger

Death by Taxes

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

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

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

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

Harvest Ball
Courtesy of Harvest Ball

A Warm Welcome from the Farmers

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

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

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

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

Farms Worth Fighting For

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

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

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

Harvest Ball
Courtesy of Harvest Ball

Standouts from the Show

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

Ridgeline Farms

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

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

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

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

AlienLabs

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

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

Native Humboldt Farms

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

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

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

Briceland Forest Farms

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

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

Canna Country Farms

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

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

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

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

Connected

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

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

Huckleberry Hill

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

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

Courtesy of Jesse Hershberger

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

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

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

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

Cannabis Documentary Lady Buds Explores Female Business Owners in New Release

A new cannabis film documentary entitled Lady Buds, releasing this weekend, explores the lives and challenges of female business owners.

The cannabis industry has heavily benefitted from niche documentaries, which present a professional way to educate viewers about the stigma of cannabis, its history on the War on Drugs or its effectiveness as a medicine. Films such as WEED (2013), featuring CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, who opened up the conversation about medical cannabis to the nation. Weed the People (2018) explores the effectiveness of medical cannabis for children. Grass is Greener (2019) examines the history of music and its depiction of the War on Drugs.

Now it’s time to enjoy a new cinematic adventure in the form of Lady Buds—a unique perspective about female cannabis business owners from all walks of life.

Lady Buds recounts the lives and businesses of a diverse cast of individuals in Northern California, varying in race, age and sexual orientation. Seven women, who represent six cannabis businesses, are featured in Lady Buds: Sue Taylor, Chiah Rodriques, Felicia Carbajal, Karyn Wagner and The Bud Sisters (Pearl Moon and Dr. Joyce Centofanti). From cultivation to dispensary ownership and topical creation, these women all faced numerous challenges during the 2017-2019 window when the documentary was filmed. Lady Buds presents an intimate look at the lives of each subject, but also challenges the stereotypes both of “stoners” in general, as well as those of women in the industry.

Check out this exclusive clip from the film, featuring Karyn Wagner who shares an experience that her business ran into shortly after legalization in California went live. Enjoy this sneak peek!

High Times conducted an exclusive interview with Director, Producer and Writer Chris J. Russo in the High Times’ November Issue, aka the Women’s Issue, where she offered an inside look at her film and what kind of experience it presents to audiences. According to Russo, Lady Buds is the first of its kind—and it all began with a statistic about women in the industry that stuck with her. A few key studies have produced some shocking data about women in the industry, or lack thereof.

Back in 2015, according to a study conducted by Marijuana Business Daily (MBD), 36 percent of women held executive roles in the industry. By 2017, that percentage dropped by 26.9 percent, and then increased back up to 36.8 percent by 2019. MBD’s 2021 report entitled “Women & Minorities in the Cannabis Industry” shows a continued decline both in women, as well as people of color.

Lady Buds illuminates the issues that women face in this industry, but also highlights the challenges of all small cannabis businesses fighting to compete with larger cannabis corporations. “This film is kind of nothing like you’ve ever seen before because there hasn’t ever really been a film that’s showed such a wide range of areas that’s just like seeing it through a female lens,” Russo told High Times. “In my film, you explore the challenges of the entire supply chain with the women who are directly engaged in it. I like to make films that I want to see, so I want see more women in the positions of power in roles that are very positive.”

If you live near Los Angeles or San Francisco, check out the following live theatrical events:

November 26-27: Glendale Laemmle Theatre, 207 N. Maryland Ave., Glendale, CA 91206

November 29: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St. San Francisco, CA 94103

The film will be releasing in select theaters on November 26, and will also be available on video on demand services such as iTunes.

The post Cannabis Documentary <i>Lady Buds</i> Explores Female Business Owners in New Release appeared first on High Times.

Doc Ray on the Battle to Save Heritage Growers and Genetics

Small-scale cannabis farms—the very pioneers of the industry—are being purged out of the legal market as the wholesale price per pound plummets, while at the same time, invaluable genetics are ripped off and renamed, often inaccurately.

Anybody who has been in the game long enough knows that craft cannabis grown in the Emerald Triangle—Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties—is among the finest in the world, representing a different class of flower.

Doc Ray is a U.S. Army Green Beret, a former art professor and a respected cultivator and breeder in Emerald Triangle for about 50 years. He’s the creator of countless terp-ridden strains—the type of varieties you want to write home about. He’s also a storyteller, with tales such as gun fights with DEA agents in the hills of Northern California since the ‘70s. He chatted with High Times to discuss his mission: save heritage cultivators and unveil a new collaboration with some of Emerald Triangle’s rising heavyweights.

“I’m an old-school outlaw cultivator,” Doc Ray told High Times. “I’m kind of an open book at this stage. I’ve been around the block a few times. I’m an old school Green Beret. I’m a little rough and crusty. At this stage in the game, I just call it like I see it.”

As a Phenotype-Specific Geneticist, Doc Ray owns some brands such as Doc Ray Genetics—with mouthwatering beans such as Malawi Gold Mango. He also operates a microbusiness in cannabis cultivation in Arcata, California. As an old school breeder, Doc Ray has gotten himself into all kinds of facets of cultivation.

But lately, amid unprecedented thievery and competition with cheap “deps,” Doc Ray has been exploring patented strains, intellectual property (IP) and blockchain technology as a means to protect small scale growers and the strains they love, almost like one of their own children.

Doc Ray examines a plant. Photo courtesy of Terps By Doc & Bentley.

“I just don’t want outlaws to come in and rip me off all the fucking time. That’s the model I’ve built, which is apparently pretty fuckin’ popular now. Three years ago, people said, ‘I can’t believe you’re going to patent plants!’” -Co-founder Doc Ray

Doc Ray’s Road to Divine Genetics

Doc Ray has been smoking grass since the ‘70s. “I was a kid in high school and smoked my first joint,” Doc Ray said. “Vietnam was tapering off. One of my buddy’s older brothers came back from ‘Nam in the summer of ‘72 when I cultivated my first plant. That was my first experience in cultivation. I grew up in Northern Mendocino County. It’s just a lifestyle there. Not like it is now—a Holy Grail mecca type of place as the Emerald Triangle. It’s a way of life.”

Doc Ray always had a hand in some sort of cultivation role. “Even when I was in college or teaching, I always had a closet grow or something going on in my garden,” he said.

Doc Ray was incarcerated in the mid-’80s over a miniscule amount of pot. But it didn’t cause him to deviate from his path. “I just shifted my game—going completely underground,” he said. “My voter registration card took you down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere and it just stopped. I’m one of the original Mendocino outlaws—you know, green mountain boys. We were considered guardians of the valley so to speak. The ones in their ‘40s and ‘50s know me now. We kept everybody out. You just didn’t roll up in there, or you had to deal with us. We were all ex-Special Forces and are all hard, riding motherfuckers. That’s just how we were.”

Doc Ray got into an altercation with the County Sheriffs in the early ‘90s and over the next 10 years, the industry he once knew sort of slowly vanished before his eyes. Doc Ray was a Prop. 215 caregiver in Mendocino County in 1997—the first year anyone could. His travels to embark on cultivation-related projects would take him to Big Sur, among other destinations. 

By the time it got to the early 2000s, things started shifting and Doc Ray couldn’t stand it anymore, with the price per pound reaching new depths. He was responsible for producing a lot of medicine for a lot of people. Twenty years ago, what goes for a few hundred dollars now, used to be worth thousands of dollars for the same flower. And nothing’s changed—if anything, growers have gotten better at it. The price for cultivators nosedived as adult-use took form.

His gears shifted over the past 10-12 years, after barely surviving a serious motorcycle accident in 2009, when he returned to Humboldt County. “I got my eye knocked out and I was left for dead on the side of the road,” he said.

Over the last 12 or so years, Doc Ray has been playing with genetics. The number of patented cannabis genetics continues to grow in 2021, as plant patents are granted by the United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety—not to mention utility patents that also abound. The understanding of law is often murky. “Now I’ve got patented plants, and half a dozen flower lines and all this other stuff. It wasn’t there seven years ago, and it’s all here now. Now all of a sudden I’m involved in this project with my company and with Bentley [Rolling]. We’ve been working on the Terps By Doc & Bentley flower release, which is showcasing how badass cultivators here in the Emerald Triangle are, which I have access to. They’re part of my network.”

Cannabis for Veterans

Doc Ray slowly started working behind the scenes to fortify and protect his genetics, and in addition, also took part in studies on the efficacy of medical cannabis for veterans. “That’s one of my things,” he said. “My Bluestone genetics. My Bluestone has been around for awhile. It’s all sativa-forward now. There’s no purple. It’s heavy smoke. Most of my young friends they all love it. My daily smoke. It’s a Blue Dream x Skunk #1 cross that I’ve been playing around with forever. The breeder of Skunk #1 here in Humboldt is one of my mentors. He’s been gone for a long time. It’s an homage to him. The creator of Blue Dream is a friend. It’s an homage to her.” 

Dr. Sue Sisley is Principal Investigator for the only FDA-approved randomized controlled trial in the world examining the efficacy of smoked marijuana flower in combat veterans with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“The plants now are patented for post-traumatic stress therapy,” Doc Ray said. “It’s on the list with Dr. Sue Sisley and the Scottsdale Research Institute for one of the plants. It’s in pre-clinical trials for post-traumatic stress for veterans. I’ve been talking to a lot of medical experts at the University of Davis. Five years ago, nobody gave a fuck about it.”

Doc Ray explained that everybody wants it for stress relief as it’s one of the most grounding flowers around, with a calmness that rolls over you. “I’m old school,” Doc Ray said. “I have a lot of shit on my head from my military career and from my civilian life. This helps me get the ghosts and demons out of my head. Twenty minutes later, my back and shoulder doesn’t hurt anymore. That’s the advantage of this plant. Put it on a shelf in a retail environment, for the adult consumer.”

Bentley Rolling examines a specimen.

“When I first started Terps with legendary Heritage Cultivator Doc Ray, I had no idea this was going on. I just knew I wanted to help him get his phenomenal genetics out to more people.” -Co-founder Bentley Rolling

Saving Heritage Growers

Doc Ray explained that he’s growing top-tier, five-star indo, and his price point isn’t where the outdoor market is. “I’m at the top of the food chain,” he said. “Not at the bottom of the food chain. I have all these friends who are world class growers.”

He explained that small-scale growers are getting crucified under current conditions. People demand AAA bud, but nowadays they’re paying in the ballpark of $450 per pound. He finds it insulting—given the cost of manpower, payroll and workman’s comp., not to mention the overhead.

“That’s what this whole thing that I’ve mulled over these past couple of months,” Doc Ray said. “Supporting heritage farms, and [recognizing] the plight of small mom-and-pop farmers. Most of them don’t produce 1,000 pounds of flower, they don’t produce 200 pounds of flower annually. A lot of them are the 50-100 pound range. It used to be that you could get $2,000 per pound and make a living at that. At $400, that doesn’t even get you out of the hole to pay your bills and fees. They’re quitting left and right. Or even worse. On a personal note, I had a buddy kill himself because he didn’t see any alternative. When the hell did people kill themselves in this game?!”

When Proposition 64 rolled out, the whole landscape began to change, and fast. Around the year of 2015, Doc Ray started noticing people who were saying they’ve been ripped off of their genetics. He knew that it was going to happen eventually. 

That’s why Doc Ray and other OG farmers in the area started to consider legal protections a bit more seriously, despite the limitations of working in the “grey area” given the federal status of cannabis.

Doc Ray takes a break from a long day. Photo courtesy of Terps By Doc & Bentley.

Intellectual Property

“I’ve got the best IP lawyer in the country,” Doc Ray said. “I have a legal team now. I’ve got people that represent me. The whole nine yards: License branded agreements. I want minimum purchases. I don’t take percentages. I want a dollar a stamp for everything you cut. I want a percentage of every pound that’s turned. This is how it rolls now.”

He explained that it didn’t used to be that way. As an open-source guy, Doc Ray originally embraced open source genetics in the Emerald Triangle. But the truth of it is, he says, is that they’ve all been tried, ripped off, and stolen from and taken advantage of for decades. And today, you have people in suits who have never grown a plant in their lives taking over the industry.

He started experimenting how to get genetics in a position where small-scale growers can keep them from being ripped off. “Most breeders don’t get it, honestly, much less growers,” Doc Ray says. “I’m not asking for a lot, I’m asking for a few pennies on every transaction with the intention that it’s going to be millions and millions of transactions. That’s where I put this thing at now. I own all of my genetic patenting; I’ve got a couple of small principal partners who are invested in what I do. I control all of my genetics. I control who I work with. I have a couple of branding partners here in the state of California who represent me. You can get gear, but you can’t dilute it. And by that I mean, and I tell them. If you see Kit-Kats roll in without paperwork, they don’t get my gear.”

If a grower rolls into town and has his paperwork, his Metrc, etc.—Doc Ray will work with them by all means. “I just don’t want outlaws to come in and rip me off all the fucking time,” he said. “That’s the model I’ve built, which is apparently pretty fuckin’ popular now. Three years ago, people said, “I can’t believe you’re going to patent plants!”

Doc Ray explained that old school growers in the area see the “rockstars” as musicians or book writers. It makes the difference between a world class novel and a trashy tabloid article. He explained that the royalty portion of his genetics has to be through a controlled source. “You can make a killing on it, but you have to pay a little bit back to the source. That’s something that we’ve skipped over until now.”

Left to right: Doc Ray, Jerry Savage and Bentley Rolling. Photo courtesy of Terps By Doc & Bentley.

Registering Strains

Recently, Doc Ray is diving into intellectual property rights, with a little help from technology like Canopyright. Last October, Canopyright launched a beta version of its secure, free-to-use web platform on Hedera. Canopyright is the first and only cannabis herbarium where breeders can both register their unique strains.

“Canopyrights made a test project—a blockchain project—that’s just here in the Triangle right now,” said Doc. “But if we can get the thing to go out, it will be a way for mom-and-pop cultivators or breeders who have that one-of-a-kind can protect it by filing the paper with a digital timestamp on the blockchain that gives you some protection. And I went to my guys, and said, ‘will our thing be their thing in the court of law?’”

Doc Ray admits that there are a lot of hypotheticals. Anybody who’s not playing by the rules—this thing doesn’t protect them from shit. “My guys take DNA samples, and if it’s our DNA, we own your ass. That’s why genetic plant patenting is so important. That’s what I’ve done. The blockchain allows people to still barter their plants with the system. It protects them and gives them a little bit of control without having any real monetary expense to it. My way is not expensive.” Doc Ray said he thinks the next five years are going to be critical for the black market. 

He sees younger people entering the industry, and some are on their way to becoming breeder legends. “We have to work together, or we’re doomed,” Doc Ray said. “I’m known for small scale. You’ll never see more than 25 pounds of anything. You just don’t see that anymore. I’ve been holding my price point up.” Doc Ray wants to leave something for his grandkids.

Enter Terps By Doc & Bentley

Terps By Doc & Bentley provides heritage cultivation with its own patented genetics—also providing a path to market for other heritage cultivators in the area including Jerry Savage of Savage Farms and Sean Stamm of SoHum Royal Cannabis Co.

Jerry Savage of Savage Farms. Photo courtesy of Terps By Doc & Bentley.

The company was formed by old school Emerald Triangle legend Doc Ray and Bentley Rolling—both of whom set out to protect heritage cultivators and their original strains. There are two sides to the brand—its main flower line, with genetics grown by Doc Ray in-house; and its heritage Terps line featuring Emerald Triangle-based legends. 

“When I first started Terps with legendary Heritage Cultivator Doc Ray, I had no idea this was going on,” Co-founder Bentley Rolling told High Times. “I just knew I wanted to help him get his phenomenal genetics out to more people. He created and stabilized some of the most rare terpene profiles in existence, including Cup-winning Orange Cream Frost, Black Apple Kush, Blue Skunk and Pheno Select #5.” Bentley Rolling is also a Los Angeles-based filmmaker and photographer, who turned to cannabis for anxiety, like many others. On Bentley’s website, you can find advocate-oriented merchandise with slogans such as “Save Heritage Terps” or “Support Small Cannabis Farms.” 

FollowTerps andTerps By Doc & Bentley on Instagram or visit bentleyrolling.com.

The post Doc Ray on the Battle to Save Heritage Growers and Genetics appeared first on High Times.

Growers in the Emerald Triangle are Facing a Potential Extinction Event

“This is an extinction event,” Johnny Casali, owner of Huckleberry Hill Farms, a cannabis farm in southern Humboldt County, said over the phone. “Things are really, really bad.”

Casali is referring to a recent wholesale price collapse in California’s outdoor-grown cannabis market. 

This time last year, a pound of the best quality sun-grown, light dep weed on the market cost between $1,200 to 1,600, according to Chris Anderson, founder of Humboldt County-based distributor Redwood Roots and a former cannabis farmer himself. Wider wholesale prices settled between $800 to 1,000 per pound.

Now, the same quality cannabis is fetching as low as $400 to 600 a pound and “going downhill,” though some outdoor growers are still getting in the $800-1,000 range, Anderson explained. That is for the best outdoor pot money can buy, “fresh, sun-grown, light dep,” which he said is genuinely limited and harder to find. 

Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

For contrast, Anderson says that indoor-grown “shitty, low end” flower is fetching around $1,000/pound, up to $3,000/pound for the best “designer, truly AAA, best indoor pot in the industry.” He added that lower quality pot, whether indoor or outdoor grown, exists in nearly “endless” quantities.

Data firms like Leaflink have not yet registered a price drop. A representative for Leaflink said it’s too soon to see definitive or robust data for this summer’s outdoor price drops.

That’s just in the legal market. Elsewhere in the country, pounds of the same pot trades at higher multiples in the illegal market, in some cases reaching upwards of $5,000. Supply and demand still rule the day, Anderson said, followed by quality. Indoor pot always fetches higher prices and outdoor lower, owing to outdoor weed’s relative lack of potency compared with top-shelf indoor, as well as its potentially variable appearance.

The decline in pricing, which began at the beginning of June, is expected to get worse as the cannabis harvest season proliferates and finishes in late October and November.

Emerald Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

Following that, a remaining glut of outdoor-grown cannabis from last year’s and this year’s harvests is expected to keep prices low for “at least the next couple of years,” said Anderson. By that point, industry insiders say, many small farmers could be all but wiped off the legal cannabis cultivation map.

The immediate cause is a lingering market surplus from last year’s grow—a supply that has proved to be too large to be absorbed by the legal market.

In years past, since outdoor cannabis is not harvested during the winter, an autumn harvest will supply the market for several months. Come spring, supply is lower, therefore, prices are typically higher. Late spring and early summer are when the first rounds of harvest—referred to as “light deps” for the cultivation technique employed (which involves light deprivation)—typically begin. From there, prices begin to drop, usually to more reasonable levels. The harvest continues and the cycle begins anew.

This year, farmers are beginning a new harvest with last year’s cannabis still in hand. The expected spring price drop never came, which signaled to small farmers that something was seriously wrong. 

Fast-forward to now, after the first rounds of deps, and farmers are realizing that not only could they not sell last year’s weed, but they will have to sell this year’s crop at a steep loss if they are able to sell it at all. Off the record, many growers commented that this is the weed that ends up on the illegal market.

“This state has an over-production problem,” said Natalynne DeLapp, executive director of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance. She explained that owing to the local control provision of Proposition 64, so many municipalities in California have opted out of allowing sales and distribution within their limits that there simply are not enough places to sell the amount of legal cannabis grown in the state. 

Emerald Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

“Currently, there are 1,775 acres of cannabis licensed by the state, which conservatively produces more than six million pounds of cannabis,” Delapp said. “CDFA [California Department of Food and Agriculture] has estimated in its Standard Regulatory Impact Analysis in 2017 that California likely consumes 2.5 million pounds of cannabis. Not all cannabis consumed in California is purchased at legal retailers, so a very conservative estimate is that we’re producing twice what the legal market can consume, but in reality it’s probably worse than that.”

That 2.5 million number, Delapp explained, is the “only and ‘best’ number we have from the state back in 2017.” She added that the state’s opacity and not releasing data from METRC, the tracking system, that shows what amount of cannabis is legally sold in licensed retail shops is part of the problem.

At the same time, the state and its counties continue to issue cultivation licenses, the fees from which produce revenue for municipalities. As the number of growers increases in size, so does the amount of cannabis being produced, but the pool of would-be legal customers isn’t following in lockstep.

Bigger cultivators pose a very specific problem. In addition to flooding the market with large amounts of cannabis, driving down prices, they are also able to sustain market fluctuations, seeing as they are highly capitalized. 

According to industry insiders, like DeLapp and Genine Coleman of legacy grower advocacy organization Origins Council, larger cultivators weren’t supposed to be able to participate in the legal market until 2023, but the provision that granted small farmers a five-year-long head start in the market was scrapped just as Prop 64 was passed.

“It’s basically systemically dysfunctional,” said Coleman. “As for prices, the lowest I heard was $275. But that was a month ago. The thing to remember is that that farmer is paying a $150-per-pound cultivation tax,” she added, citing a harsh truth that applies to every cultivator regardless of what price per pound their weed ends up being sold for.

Coleman also lays out immediate solutions that she and others in California’s small grower community say would provide meaningful relief.

Emerland Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

“Between COVID, the fires, that reality [of crashing market prices], and the budget process unfolding, there could be some legislation and a trailer bill. There could be temporary actions taken while time is taken to sort out a broader policy issue,” Coleman said, referring to a potential temporary moratorium on issuing cultivation licenses, as well as amending the cultivation tax, which are two fixes many growers say they would gladly welcome.

“From our perspective, the most immediate thing that can happen is some kind of tax restructuring, that at least offers temporary relief from the cultivation tax. Because the rest of the supply chain is better positioned than small farmers, in particular,” Coleman said. She added that these larger operations are also much more equipped to handle compliance as it relates to state regulations, like the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), from both a manpower perspective and a monetary one.

“The next order of business is, ‘What can be done for market expansion?’ The lateral growth in the retail sector is unacceptable and can’t carry the production trajectory that we have,” Coleman explained. She said that larger-scale operations continue to come online and everyone in the industry is preparing for an eventual interstate market that doesn’t exist yet while at the same time there has been a contraction of customer access.

For Coleman’s part, she is on the board of the Alliance for Sensible Markets, another advocacy organization that has been in conversation with a number of states to evaluate interstate compacts and prospective trade between legalized states. Nothing has been decided on that front as of yet, but she indicated that news was coming soon.

As for the state, Nicole Elliott, director of the Department of Cannabis Control, shared, “The Administration has always been committed to supporting small and legacy businesses in the cannabis market, as evidenced by a number of the policies and programs that have been pursued and implemented in our 2.5 years in office.”

Elliot points to the creation of a standalone state department, the Department of Cannabis Control, which recently consolidated from three separate state agencies to help simplify the administration of regulated commercial cannabis businesses. She says this includes a “sustained focus on streamlining licensing processes and regulatory requirements. All of this is being done with an eye towards making it easier for businesses, particularly small businesses, to operate within the legal, regulated market.”

Elliott added that the state’s budget, which is enjoying a $75.7 billion surplus this year, allocated $100 million for a Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program. 

“These grants specifically target regions with high numbers of small farmers and was structured in a way that really sought to preserve significant funding locations with legacy small cultivators that often have unique regulatory needs,” Elliott said. She also adds that some legacy operators in the Emerald Triangle are also equity beneficiaries who receive funds from a $35.5 million Local Equity Grant Program and $30 million for fee waivers and deferrals.

Both Coleman and DeLapp said they appreciate this cash injection from the Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program but that the money is already earmarked for other projects. Specifically, DeLapp said that in Humboldt County, they are looking to use it to bulk up water storage systems, which addresses the other looming catastrophe of climate change. Across the board, cultivators and their advocates say the state needs to do more. Halting the cultivation tax and enacting a moratorium on new cultivation licenses appears to be at the top of everyone’s lists.

There are other longer-term measures the state and industry advocates have taken, like the recent ratification of Senate Bill 67, which creates appellations of origin for cannabis grown in specific geographic areas. This is expected to increase tourism and provide an extra layer of education and protection around legacy growing areas that believe their cannabis is unique to where it’s grown. In an age where interstate commerce looms, it should be a huge boon—who from further afield is not going to want to buy California weed? But it’s not expected to meaningfully take effect for at least a couple of years.

Meanwhile, back in the Emerald Triangle, farmers are hurting. DeLapp says this is not only a likely “extinction event” for small legacy farmers but that it’s one of several. Back before Prop 64 passed, there were a number of cultivators who jumped ship, claiming they knew the bloodbath to come. Just after legalization was another when small farms struggled to find the capital and manpower to get and stay licensed. This outdoor price collapse is expected to be another.

Jackie McGowan, who is currently running as a candidate in Governor Newsom’s recall election, told us that she’s running specifically because she knew “at least four” grower friends of hers who died by suicide since the beginning of June 2021, owing to the price collapse. Her despair over the lives of her friends and colleagues, as well as the state of the industry, is what has compelled her to run, she said.

Coleman said that, apart from the injustice done to the small farmers who quite literally began and weathered cannabis cultivation in the United States throughout prohibition and into the legal area by allowing them to fail at this critical juncture, there are other potential losses to consider should small farmers be forced out of business.

“Something I’m always aware of regarding the extinction of small legacy farmers and farming communities is the extinction of a whole bunch of genetics,” Coleman said. “From the broader, more international perspective and especially in the medical realm of cannabis research, that’s a lot of loss in terms of the genetic library that should be researched and preserved. For an annual plant, in particular, it happens really quickly,” she added soberly.

At the end of the day, the growers and their advocates lay the blame both on the state’s failure to properly implement rules and regulations for a healthy legal cannabis market, as well as the large cultivators who are taking advantage of a law that was, frankly, made just for them.

“We were supposed to have this runway to 2023 before the market was overfilled. We didn’t get that,” DeLapp said.

She added, “What is the state going to do to fix this? Is the plan going to be to just let the legacy regions die?”

Growers in the Emerald Triangle are Facing a Potential Extinction Event

“This is an extinction event,” Johnny Casali, owner of Huckleberry Hill Farms, a cannabis farm in southern Humboldt County, said over the phone. “Things are really, really bad.”

Casali is referring to a recent wholesale price collapse in California’s outdoor-grown cannabis market. 

This time last year, a pound of the best quality sun-grown, light dep weed on the market cost between $1,200 to 1,600, according to Chris Anderson, founder of Humboldt County-based distributor Redwood Roots and a former cannabis farmer himself. Wider wholesale prices settled between $800 to 1,000 per pound.

Now, the same quality cannabis is fetching as low as $400 to 600 a pound and “going downhill,” though some outdoor growers are still getting in the $800-1,000 range, Anderson explained. That is for the best outdoor pot money can buy, “fresh, sun-grown, light dep,” which he said is genuinely limited and harder to find. 

Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

For contrast, Anderson says that indoor-grown “shitty, low end” flower is fetching around $1,000/pound, up to $3,000/pound for the best “designer, truly AAA, best indoor pot in the industry.” He added that lower quality pot, whether indoor or outdoor grown, exists in nearly “endless” quantities.

Data firms like Leaflink have not yet registered a price drop. A representative for Leaflink said it’s too soon to see definitive or robust data for this summer’s outdoor price drops.

That’s just in the legal market. Elsewhere in the country, pounds of the same pot trades at higher multiples in the illegal market, in some cases reaching upwards of $5,000. Supply and demand still rule the day, Anderson said, followed by quality. Indoor pot always fetches higher prices and outdoor lower, owing to outdoor weed’s relative lack of potency compared with top-shelf indoor, as well as its potentially variable appearance.

The decline in pricing, which began at the beginning of June, is expected to get worse as the cannabis harvest season proliferates and finishes in late October and November.

Emerald Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

Following that, a remaining glut of outdoor-grown cannabis from last year’s and this year’s harvests is expected to keep prices low for “at least the next couple of years,” said Anderson. By that point, industry insiders say, many small farmers could be all but wiped off the legal cannabis cultivation map.

The immediate cause is a lingering market surplus from last year’s grow—a supply that has proved to be too large to be absorbed by the legal market.

In years past, since outdoor cannabis is not harvested during the winter, an autumn harvest will supply the market for several months. Come spring, supply is lower, therefore, prices are typically higher. Late spring and early summer are when the first rounds of harvest—referred to as “light deps” for the cultivation technique employed (which involves light deprivation)—typically begin. From there, prices begin to drop, usually to more reasonable levels. The harvest continues and the cycle begins anew.

This year, farmers are beginning a new harvest with last year’s cannabis still in hand. The expected spring price drop never came, which signaled to small farmers that something was seriously wrong. 

Fast-forward to now, after the first rounds of deps, and farmers are realizing that not only could they not sell last year’s weed, but they will have to sell this year’s crop at a steep loss if they are able to sell it at all. Off the record, many growers commented that this is the weed that ends up on the illegal market.

“This state has an over-production problem,” said Natalynne DeLapp, executive director of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance. She explained that owing to the local control provision of Proposition 64, so many municipalities in California have opted out of allowing sales and distribution within their limits that there simply are not enough places to sell the amount of legal cannabis grown in the state. 

Emerald Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

“Currently, there are 1,775 acres of cannabis licensed by the state, which conservatively produces more than six million pounds of cannabis,” Delapp said. “CDFA [California Department of Food and Agriculture] has estimated in its Standard Regulatory Impact Analysis in 2017 that California likely consumes 2.5 million pounds of cannabis. Not all cannabis consumed in California is purchased at legal retailers, so a very conservative estimate is that we’re producing twice what the legal market can consume, but in reality it’s probably worse than that.”

That 2.5 million number, Delapp explained, is the “only and ‘best’ number we have from the state back in 2017.” She added that the state’s opacity and not releasing data from METRC, the tracking system, that shows what amount of cannabis is legally sold in licensed retail shops is part of the problem.

At the same time, the state and its counties continue to issue cultivation licenses, the fees from which produce revenue for municipalities. As the number of growers increases in size, so does the amount of cannabis being produced, but the pool of would-be legal customers isn’t following in lockstep.

Bigger cultivators pose a very specific problem. In addition to flooding the market with large amounts of cannabis, driving down prices, they are also able to sustain market fluctuations, seeing as they are highly capitalized. 

According to industry insiders, like DeLapp and Genine Coleman of legacy grower advocacy organization Origins Council, larger cultivators weren’t supposed to be able to participate in the legal market until 2023, but the provision that granted small farmers a five-year-long head start in the market was scrapped just as Prop 64 was passed.

“It’s basically systemically dysfunctional,” said Coleman. “As for prices, the lowest I heard was $275. But that was a month ago. The thing to remember is that that farmer is paying a $150-per-pound cultivation tax,” she added, citing a harsh truth that applies to every cultivator regardless of what price per pound their weed ends up being sold for.

Coleman also lays out immediate solutions that she and others in California’s small grower community say would provide meaningful relief.

Emerland Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

“Between COVID, the fires, that reality [of crashing market prices], and the budget process unfolding, there could be some legislation and a trailer bill. There could be temporary actions taken while time is taken to sort out a broader policy issue,” Coleman said, referring to a potential temporary moratorium on issuing cultivation licenses, as well as amending the cultivation tax, which are two fixes many growers say they would gladly welcome.

“From our perspective, the most immediate thing that can happen is some kind of tax restructuring, that at least offers temporary relief from the cultivation tax. Because the rest of the supply chain is better positioned than small farmers, in particular,” Coleman said. She added that these larger operations are also much more equipped to handle compliance as it relates to state regulations, like the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), from both a manpower perspective and a monetary one.

“The next order of business is, ‘What can be done for market expansion?’ The lateral growth in the retail sector is unacceptable and can’t carry the production trajectory that we have,” Coleman explained. She said that larger-scale operations continue to come online and everyone in the industry is preparing for an eventual interstate market that doesn’t exist yet while at the same time there has been a contraction of customer access.

For Coleman’s part, she is on the board of the Alliance for Sensible Markets, another advocacy organization that has been in conversation with a number of states to evaluate interstate compacts and prospective trade between legalized states. Nothing has been decided on that front as of yet, but she indicated that news was coming soon.

As for the state, Nicole Elliott, director of the Department of Cannabis Control, shared, “The Administration has always been committed to supporting small and legacy businesses in the cannabis market, as evidenced by a number of the policies and programs that have been pursued and implemented in our 2.5 years in office.”

Elliot points to the creation of a standalone state department, the Department of Cannabis Control, which recently consolidated from three separate state agencies to help simplify the administration of regulated commercial cannabis businesses. She says this includes a “sustained focus on streamlining licensing processes and regulatory requirements. All of this is being done with an eye towards making it easier for businesses, particularly small businesses, to operate within the legal, regulated market.”

Elliott added that the state’s budget, which is enjoying a $75.7 billion surplus this year, allocated $100 million for a Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program. 

“These grants specifically target regions with high numbers of small farmers and was structured in a way that really sought to preserve significant funding locations with legacy small cultivators that often have unique regulatory needs,” Elliott said. She also adds that some legacy operators in the Emerald Triangle are also equity beneficiaries who receive funds from a $35.5 million Local Equity Grant Program and $30 million for fee waivers and deferrals.

Both Coleman and DeLapp said they appreciate this cash injection from the Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program but that the money is already earmarked for other projects. Specifically, DeLapp said that in Humboldt County, they are looking to use it to bulk up water storage systems, which addresses the other looming catastrophe of climate change. Across the board, cultivators and their advocates say the state needs to do more. Halting the cultivation tax and enacting a moratorium on new cultivation licenses appears to be at the top of everyone’s lists.

There are other longer-term measures the state and industry advocates have taken, like the recent ratification of Senate Bill 67, which creates appellations of origin for cannabis grown in specific geographic areas. This is expected to increase tourism and provide an extra layer of education and protection around legacy growing areas that believe their cannabis is unique to where it’s grown. In an age where interstate commerce looms, it should be a huge boon—who from further afield is not going to want to buy California weed? But it’s not expected to meaningfully take effect for at least a couple of years.

Meanwhile, back in the Emerald Triangle, farmers are hurting. DeLapp says this is not only a likely “extinction event” for small legacy farmers but that it’s one of several. Back before Prop 64 passed, there were a number of cultivators who jumped ship, claiming they knew the bloodbath to come. Just after legalization was another when small farms struggled to find the capital and manpower to get and stay licensed. This outdoor price collapse is expected to be another.

Jackie McGowan, who is currently running as a candidate in Governor Newsom’s recall election, told us that she’s running specifically because she knew “at least four” grower friends of hers who died by suicide since the beginning of June 2021, owing to the price collapse. Her despair over the lives of her friends and colleagues, as well as the state of the industry, is what has compelled her to run, she said.

Coleman said that, apart from the injustice done to the small farmers who quite literally began and weathered cannabis cultivation in the United States throughout prohibition and into the legal area by allowing them to fail at this critical juncture, there are other potential losses to consider should small farmers be forced out of business.

“Something I’m always aware of regarding the extinction of small legacy farmers and farming communities is the extinction of a whole bunch of genetics,” Coleman said. “From the broader, more international perspective and especially in the medical realm of cannabis research, that’s a lot of loss in terms of the genetic library that should be researched and preserved. For an annual plant, in particular, it happens really quickly,” she added soberly.

At the end of the day, the growers and their advocates lay the blame both on the state’s failure to properly implement rules and regulations for a healthy legal cannabis market, as well as the large cultivators who are taking advantage of a law that was, frankly, made just for them.

“We were supposed to have this runway to 2023 before the market was overfilled. We didn’t get that,” DeLapp said.

She added, “What is the state going to do to fix this? Is the plan going to be to just let the legacy regions die?”

The post Growers in the Emerald Triangle are Facing a Potential Extinction Event appeared first on High Times.

Spring Planting for Sungrown Cannabis at Swami Select

The days are longer, and the sun has warmed the soil—planting season is upon us. Even before the seeds are cracked, and long before the magic herb goes in the ground, there is a fair amount of preparation work to be done.

Ganja Ma Gardens, home of Swami Select cannabis, is nestled in the mountainous woodlands of Northern California’s Emerald Triangle. Last fall, we decided to move the 30 cannabis plants that grew in the Rose Garden to the primary cultivation area known as the Sri Yantra Garden. The Rose Garden was the first place we grew cannabis when we started the farm many years ago. But over the past few years, the plants got smaller and smaller, even though they received all the same amendments, compost teas and manure as the plants in the other gardens. We finally figured out that the roots of several enormous Oak and Doug Fir trees growing outside the garden fence had invaded the garden. The roots were stealing most of the water and nutrients that we thought were going to the plants.

In April, we moved the Rose Garden soil to our mixing area next to the Sri Yantra Garden. We used an excavator to dig 30 new holes in that garden. The crew gathered old fallen logs from around the ranch which were placed in the holes, along with hardware cloth for gopher protection and gypsum to help loosen up the clay in the native soil. This became the base of the mounds, or “hugellettes,” as I call them. To meet canopy requirements set by the state, each cannabis plant has its own little mound, measuring approximately seven feet in diameter. As the buried wood decomposes, it holds water and fosters microbial life. In the beginning of the process, however, it consumes a fair amount of nitrogen requiring the addition of chicken manure to compensate.

Wattles around the mixing piles. Photo Nikki Lastreto

Following the spring’s heavy windstorms, numerous fallen branches were gathered up and wood chipped. Added to the chips were dried oak leaves and last year’s compost pile consisting of cannabis waste and kitchen scraps, all of which was watered and turned. We also acquired about two yards of alpaca “beans” (aka manure) from our neighbor up the hill and added that to the mix. 

During the winter, the worms in the worm bin perished in the cold, and the whole batch was harvested and added to the compilation, as well. A fresh worm bin has been started for their castings. All these piles of natural ingredients will be mixed with chicken manure and mined minerals, such as Azomite containing trace minerals and Supplemate containing potassium and manganese sulfate, plus the soil from the Rose Garden to make the new hugellettes.

In April, because it’s still so cold, compost tea brews must bubble for 48 hours before microbial life multiplies. Next, the brews were poured on the garden mounds and the piles of Rose Garden soil.

After testing the existing mounds in the Sri Yantra Garden, we found they needed little in the way of amendments. After they have been loosened with a broad fork, the same mix of natural ingredients and amendments listed above will be added on top of all the mounds and then mulched over with organic wheat straw and drenched with compost tea.

Suddenly, at the end of April, the cover crop started coming in. The seeds were broadcast in late November, but the wild turkeys ate them all—the bonus being that they left behind their poop! 

Another cover crop seeding in February (this time covered with hardware cloth) fared a bit better, but the lack of rain and the cold spring inhibited much growth. Then came a late rain, sunshine, warm days, and it sprang to life. Now, green and flourishing, it is being weed-whacked and turned into mulch on the beds.  

Choosing Cultivars

After much discussion about which cultivars to grow this season, we selected eight strains from Humboldt Seed Company, Heartrock Mountain Farm and our own collections, which contained seeds developed especially for us years ago by Flowerdaze Farm and our own gardeners. 

We placed all the seeds at the feet of Ganja Ma, the Goddess of Cannabis, for a moon cycle. Following an ancient tradition of calling on higher powers to bless the crop, we chanted mantras to set the intention for the flowers to bring healing and inspiration to the end-user. On April 13, with the new moon in Taurus, we repeated more mantras and put the seeds in little jars of water covered with cloth, adding a few drops of water from the sacred Ganges River in India. 

Ganja Ma in the Sri Yantra Garden. Photo Nikki Lastreto

Once the seeds cracked and the tiny white taproots peeked out, we planted them in one-gallon pots with the soil from last year’s male starts, which had been composting all winter and were also inoculated with a compost tea brew. Once the first little rounded cotyledon leaves sprouted, the statue of Ganja Ma was brought out from her place indoors to the Sri Yantra Garden and set atop the stacked triangles which form the Sri Yantra—the sacred geometric symbol signifying the complementarity of male and female energies.

Greater Efficiency with Gender Testing

A big change this year was the decision to do gender testing with Leafworks. This will enable us to put the plants in the ground much earlier, as we won’t have to wait for each plant to show physical signs of gender. In the past, it was a tedious process: every day throughout June, we would carefully inspect each plant for the two little antennae-like yellowish hairs in the branch node, signaling it’s a female. 

Gender ID Testing also means less water, less fertilizer and less labor caring for hundreds of plants that will eventually become male and need to be put down. This year all the tiny leaf cuttings for the testing were done in one day in mid-May. Results should be back in a week. With the girls in their beds a month earlier than before, the yield should be greater, as well.

In the category of “it’s always something,” we were perplexed as to why 30-40 of the cracked seeds never sprouted. After days spent wondering what we did wrong, we moved some planters and discovered a family of mice living underneath some ground covering. They had been feasting on the tender sprouts—a delicious salad bar for them. To make up for the loss, we started a batch of new seeds and are still waiting for them to sprout.

The bright-green seedling starts are about six inches tall now, and they each received a scoop of chicken manure to spur the next stage of growth. Soon they will be tucked into their little beds in the Sri Yantra Garden and the Moon Garden. Before the coming harvest in October, they will be watered and fed with compost teas until they reach for the sky, growing to ten feet or more and raising all our spirits.


The post Spring Planting for Sungrown Cannabis at Swami Select appeared first on Cannabis Now.

The Bloodlust of Sasquatch – Carnage on Northern California Cannabis Farms

For the Cannabis growers in Northern California, fear now comes in an eight-foot form. The evidence is as clear as it is terrifying; Sasquatch is real, hates cannabis, and has gone on a murderous rampage. Here are the latest developments. Bloodlust of Sasquatch Three bodies were torn to pieces on a dope farm, all the […]

The post The Bloodlust of Sasquatch – Carnage on Northern California Cannabis Farms appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.