Doja Drops Bring Weed to the People

When the Hollywood Strain Premiere Party initially launched in the summer of last year, it was the place to be when it came to weed in Los Angeles. For an event that had no public advertising and for which the address and method for entering were a secret, attendance was regularly packed. Smokers looking for the best top-shelf weed mingled with industry insiders, all talking about the latest hot strain drops.

Doja Exclusive founder Ryan Bartholomew is no stranger to creating events and buzz. His brand has been at the bleeding edge of strain trends in California for years now. As far as hype in the industry goes, Doja is one of the biggest names out there. Originating from Sacramento, the brand is now based in Hollywood, California, aka the center of the weed world.

In a sense, both the pop-up model and selling directly to consumers harken back to an earlier time when excitement around legalization made the Prop 215 medical marijuana era in California a constantly buzzing scene of seshes and pop-up events. For Bartholomew, this approach to sales and marketing is just one part of a larger plan for Doja Exclusive to circumvent traditional retail as much as possible.

High Times Magazine, August 2023

For the most part, Bartholomew said, the dispensary is a fading concept that is becoming increasingly impractical for marketing weed. He says that few people these days are excited to go shop at a dispensary. Most importantly, getting fresh product on the shelves has become a huge challenge. The supply chain to the dispensary shelves can be slow and, after testing and distribution, the product often arrives less than fresh. If it doesn’t sell out immediately it languishes for months. For Doja the situation was unacceptable.

“The shit was old inventory and I’m thinking this isn’t good for what I do. I’d rather just let people know where I have the latest drops and then let them come out and get it directly from fresh batches that I’ve recently QC-ed and feel comfortable about,” he said.

It led Bartholomew to conceive the idea of a direct-to-consumer sales event, which manifested as the Hollywood Strain Premiere Party. The idea was simple: “Let’s do something where consumers can come grab new flavors and meet me in person. The weed will be good every time. We make sure of that,” Bartholomew said.

The event also allows Bartholomew to build hype around the new strains that Doja is bringing to market.

“I wanted to do something a little different since we had constant new phenos that we were rolling out with JBeezy [of Seed Junky Genetics] at the time. We also had the project in motion with Duke of Erb and some new strains dropping with Fiya Farmer,” he said.

Ryan Bartholomew of Dojo Exclusive and Juan Quesada of Backpack Boyz. Photo by Dan Wilson, @visithollyweed

Part of the early buzz of the event was that you could try new genetics that weren’t yet widely available, hence the “Strain Premiere.” It became the only place in the world to get the freshest and latest in Cali genetics.

“We had new genetics that no one else had,” Bartholomew said. “We were one of the few brands to put out new staples last year, so it was dope to be able to have a curated menu of flavors that were new and unique.”

Doja premiered strains such as Permanent Marker and Push Pop, and has released multiple phenotypes of Giraffe Puzzy so that fans can see the process of isolating a new strain. Doja has also dropped exclusive clones and seeds at the event, as well as street inspired merch that quickly sells out.

In 2021 Bartholomew held several industry-only mixers in cities such as Las Vegas and Miami, which were well attended by his many industry acquaintances. Last year he wanted to expand on the concept, but this time to create a space that was partly for the industry and partly for the consumer.

“I felt like I needed to focus more on connecting with the people that actually buy the product, not just other people in the industry. One of the ways that I knew I could get people out was to have these Hollywood events where I invite my industry friends like Wizard Trees, Sourwavez, Don Merfos and Gerb, Fiya Farmer. But at the same time, everyone else can come too,” he said.

 “So now smokers can talk to Wizard Trees and be like, ‘Yo, I really fuck with what you’re doing.’ That was always the idea behind it. That’s why from the very first one, I invited all those people.”

Sourwavez of King Sourwavez Genetics and Chico Shyne of John Doe Supply Co. Photo by Dan Wilson, @visithollyweed

The spot has always been a place to sight weed industry insiders and celebs. Big players like Sherbinskis, Terphogz, Mr. Gelatti, Super Dope/Fear of Boof, TenCo, Fiya Farmer, Wizard Trees, Fidel’s, Freddie Biggs, Ray Bama, and culture makers like Desto Dubb, Lil Meech, Lupe Fuentes, and Jewice have all been spotted there.

For Bartholomew, the success of the event shows that it’s time to start thinking about what comes next.

“We can always keep a consistent amount of people in there but we’re not looking to keep a consistent amount of people. We’re just looking to touch and go. We want something hot, new, fresh all the time,” he said.

Doja Exclusive has done direct-to-consumer pop-ups all over the U.S. and Europe, and he says that Hollywood is one of his smallest, crowd-wise. But it has gotten the most buzz, including regular press coverage.

“Does it help sales? Yes, it does boost sales all over the board. There are people in New York that are buying the product because they’re like, ‘Damn, those guys are having the Thursdays in Hollywood,’” Bartholomew said.

As for why his Hollywood event gets so much buzz, Bartholomew said that it’s all about the legacy and reputation of California weed.

“I think there’s just a fascination with Cali weed,” Bartholomew said. “We’re from the most influential place for cannabis. It’s like if you’re a fashion designer and you’re from Milan or a sommelier from Bordeaux.”

This article was originally published in the August 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.

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From Sub Par to Six Star: How to Make Better Hash Rosin

Hash rosin has surged in popularity over the last few years in both the traditional and legal markets as consumers and operators alike begin to learn a bit more about the products they consume.

This surge has been a net positive for the most part because access to quality concentrates has increased across the board but there’s one small problem: the giant ugly stockpile of dried out cardboard-flavored rosin which more than loosely resembles the Gluppity Glupp and Shloppity Shlopp that pesky Lorax was so up in arms about.

Rosin-making is a simple enough process but its inherent simplicity has led to a lot of producers throwing their hat in the ring without really understanding how to make good rosin or what that even means in the first place.

As a hopelessly hash-addled consumer and self-proclaimed terp sommelier, I’ve taken it upon myself to talk to some of the people I consider to be apex predators of the rosin game, true snow leopards at the top of hash mountain whose work has earned them accolades across the space. I came to them on hand and knee, humbly requesting that they divulge some of their secret and forbidden knowledge so that we as a people may collectively smoke fire as often as humanly possible. This is, after all, the most inherently righteous pursuit mankind may embark on.

I’m going to skip the whole arduous explanation about how hash rosin is made because there are plenty of articles and videos available to explain that process. You take weed, you fresh freeze it, you mix it with ice water and agitate. You drain it through your different size filter bags, collect the hash, dry the hash, and press the hash into rosin using heat and pressure. This is one of the most simple processes ever coined by man or beast but simplicity in this case does not translate to “easy money.” A lot can go wrong along the way but there are a few key things you can focus on to improve your chances of making some super fire rosin just like your favorite heady bois. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a select few areas of importance to focus on:

  • Fire in Fire Out
  • Proper Drying and Curing
  • Understanding the Market
Photo Courtesy of Slite23, taken by @terpshotz on Instagram

Fire in Fire Out

This is going to elicit an eye roll from some of the newbies who maybe don’t want to spend 10 years getting better at growing before they start making good hash, but everyone I spoke to insisted that if you don’t know how to grow good material or you don’t have access to good material, your rosin doesn’t stand a chance in hell.

“It essentially comes down to the starting material and I assume all good or most good hash makers know that by now,” said Pat of Northern California-based Mountain Man Melts. “It’s all about the starting material and then it comes down to indoor, dep or full-sun and I still prefer full-sun. I mean, there’s obviously some really good indoor but full-sun is, I think, the easiest way to get the best terpene profiles out of the plants.”

The indoor vs full-sun debate concerning rosin making has been going strong for a while now and everyone has a different answer regarding which is better. I tend to prefer the full-sun but I’m also a blissed out forest wook of yesteryear so I’m biased. It really comes down to personal preference. The most important thing is that the plants are healthy, happy and according to Relentless Melts, it also helps to use genetics that have been bred with hash production in mind.

“The problem with making hash right now is that nothing really washes,” said the owner of Relentless Melts, a traditional market brand operating out of Southern California. “That’s why we ourselves are breeding for hash because whatever is in the U.S. has been selected for flower all this time while the rest of the world has been selecting for hash all along.”

There are many theories and tricks regarding how to select the best strain for hash. The finger test is the most common where you rub a bud with your fingers to feel how gritty or oily the trichome heads are. Slite23, a hashmaker from Spain, told High Times that pheno hunting is of the utmost importance in finding genetics that will produce quality rosin at a high enough yield to be worth his time.

“It’s not the strain, it’s the phenotype I think,” Slite23 said. “If you are making a selection for water hash it’s a little bit difficult because maybe you find one or two or three because one is full of stalks, the other one is full of waxes, the other one is watery, it will not wash really good. There are so many factors that you need to pay attention to when you make a selection for water hash.”

For all of these reasons, it’s best for the hash maker to also be the grower or to at the very least know the grower extremely well if you want to achieve good quality and good yields batch to batch. If you limit yourself to material grown by strangers you open yourself up to all kinds of problems. That said, growing is not always a practical option for the at-home people or a lot of the concentrate brands. For those who find themselves under the watchful eye of shitty landlords or unable to convince their higher ups to splurge on a cultivation license, might I humbly suggest you be as choosy as humanly possible when selecting who to work with and what material to use or you might find yourself stuck with a whole bunch of hash you can’t smoke or sell because somebody fucked up and sprayed sulfur in the middle of flower and now the melt tastes like rotten eggs. 

Keep it Cold – Drying and Curing

After hash is collected from the washing process it must be dried before it can be pressed into rosin. Not only that, but after it’s pressed into rosin most people reading this article are going to want to cure it before consuming, packaging or selling. There’s nothing wrong with fresh press rosin if you enjoy little shards of it breaking off and flying across the room every time you try to take a dab, but cold cured rosin is monumentally easier to handle and store both for personal consumption and commercial sales so for the sake of keeping this article beginner-focused we’re just going to talk about cold curing. 

There are two main ways to dry hash, air-drying and freeze-drying. This next part might hurt your soul and wallet a bit to hear but if you want to be a serious hashmaker, you need a bloody freeze drier. Hell, you need like five of them because they break if you so much as raise your voice at them. Air drying is perfectly viable for the at-home people but you’re still going to lose a lot of quality if you don’t spend a bit of money on your air dry setup and you’ll be drying at a fraction of the speed. Either way, it is imperative to make sure your hash is completely dry before you press it. According to Relentless Melts, it can result in more than just bad-tasting product.

“If you’re a person that’s pressing then you can end up giving people really bad respiratory issues,” the owner of Relentless Melts said. “When I was first buying rosin from my homies before there was a lot of tech behind it, like hash rosin, I would end up with a gnarly cough because my buddy wouldn’t dry it right. He would just leave a bunch of moisture in it and it wouldn’t crackle on the nail or anything, but you feel like you’re having asthma.” 

If you’re air drying, you might consider throwing a dehumidifier in the room to speed up the process and suck out that last bit of unwanted moisture from the hash. Keeping the dry room cold and dark also helps preserve quality, but overall, a freeze drier is imperative if you want to do this for a living or even smoke the best rosin at home. The drying process takes less than a day typically whereas air drying can take several weeks and your product is degrading that whole time.

Pressing is a pretty simple science so I’m going to gloss over the pressing part. There’s minutiae to it, of course, but heat and pressure are pretty hard to fuck up. From what I’ve picked up over the years you just want to make sure you double bag your hash and apply pressure to the bag very slowly to avoid blowouts. Temperature, pressure, time and parchment technique all fall under personal preference for what you’re trying to achieve so the next step is curing. 

The easiest way to cure that fresh press into some easily-scoopable batter-like material that can be stored at room temperature is to put it all into a mason jar and keep it at room temperature, or colder if possible, until a layer of terpene juice starts to form at the top of the jar. The jar is then “whipped” or agitated using a small hand tool which congeals everything into the nice cold cure consistency most rosin dabbers enjoy by now. According to Slite23, he cold cures at a much colder temperature than room temperature.

“Cold cure is better than room temp,” Slite23 said, indicating that his process takes up to a month or more while a room temp cure can be accomplished inside of a week. “You can preserve terpenes, color, everything.”

Understanding the Market

I’ll keep this part brief because this is already way too long but if you want to make any kind of a living as a hashmaker in 2023, you need to understand your consumer base which is something all my interviewees stressed to me. You gotta get out there, shake some hands, smoke some cannons with the people and try other people’s work to know if yours is any good. Hash culture is not an exact science. It’s difficult to appeal to and a lot of fire goes unnoticed year to year because of bad branding or just good old fashioned social anxiety keeping hashmakers on the hill instead of at the events.

“I feel like your brand is not going to take off unless you have good friends in this business,” Relentless Melts said. “If you don’t have good friends it’s gonna take a long ass time or a lot of money for marketing.”

Hash is also hard to scale and bring to market without a proper team. I know plenty of hashmakers who work 15-20 hour days during the season because they refuse to hand off any part of the process and it keeps them overworked and underpaid. Building a business takes a lot of knowledge but it also takes a good team, as Pat of Mountain Man Melts reminded me.

“Trying to expand without the right team, or the right people around you, it’s nearly impossible because you can’t do everything yourself,” Pat said. “Right now my right hand guy for all of our grows has the same passion and desire for everything to be clean and proper how I like it. So that desire is passed along to the plants.”

Past that, just show that rosin some love and it’ll love you right back, which is true with any endeavor worth pursuing in life.

“Be humble and grow the best weed you can every time,” Slite23 said. “You don’t need to think that you are the best, but you need to be the best for yourself because the products speak by themselves.”

Some other random tips from the killers that didn’t have a good place to include:

  • Don’t over-agitate the material but don’t be a wimp about it either.
  • Machine washing is fine as long as you spend the money on a proper machine.
  • Z crosses don’t always have to yield like shit, spend more time hunting through seeds.
  • Keep things as cold as possible but work with what you have, you don’t need a fully decked out professional cold room just keep a spare set of wash bags because certain strains grease up at lower temperatures than others.

The post From Sub Par to Six Star: How to Make Better Hash Rosin appeared first on High Times.

Growing for Terpenes

When asked by my dear friend Ellen, the editor in chief of this publication, to resume writing for High Times I jumped at the request. As a journalist/educator and lifetime student I’ve always enjoyed diving into topics that I’ve covered for this magazine over the years and revisiting certain subjects as new science became available. Here I look into growing cannabis specifically for terpene production.

Terpenoids or terpenes are one of the most important chemical compounds produced by the cannabis plant. They are the compounds responsible for the plant’s smell and give each cultivar their unique perfume. Terpenes, like cannabinoids, are produced in the plant’s trichome. The trichomes are the little appendages that grow out of the plant, they are found on the buds as well as sometimes on the leaves of the plant. In the cannabis plant they are typically comprised of a stalk and head. Inside these heads are most of the essential oils found in the cannabis plant, including the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds.

Currently there is a shift in the dialogue regarding THC percentage and its sole importance to selling cannabis in the many legal markets around the world. This should be understood as fantastic news to consumers, as they will finally be the beneficiaries of more knowledge surrounding the plant and the way in which its active compounds work with each other to steer effects. This has come to be known as the entourage effect. THC is like the gas of the car and the terpenes and other compounds act like the GPS, giving the high its direction.

High Times Magazine, May 2023

The first researchers to discuss the entourage effect were Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and Dr. Shimon Ben-Shabat. They proposed that the combined effect of all the compounds found in the trichome head worked in a “botanical synergy,” to maximize the pharmacological effect of cannabis. This concept was further expanded by Dr. Ethan Russo in a paper he wrote in 2011. In the British Journal of Pharmacology, Dr. Russo wrote “that phytocannabinoid-terpenoid interactions found in cannabis offer complementary pharmacological activities that may strengthen and broaden clinical applications and improve the therapeutic index of cannabis extracts.”

This discussion has mirrored improvements in the cultivation of cannabis and have shown that phytocannabinoids and terpene percentages rise to unbelievable levels. It’s not uncommon for some strains to test as high as 35-38% total cannabinoids, with some flower testing as high as 5.5-6% total terpene content. As more cannabis research emerges, cultivation techniques are becoming more and more refined. Using a science-backed approach, cultivators can test their flower and really dial in environment, nutrient usage, and genetics. When it comes to growing for terpene content, the main factors a grower can control are: nutrients, ultraviolet (UV) light, temperature control, harvesting schedule, the drying/curing process, and genetics.


Nutrients, specifically certain plant hormones like methyl jasmonate, can stimulate the systemic acquired resistance (SAR) in a plant. This forces it to increase the natural oils, in this case terpenes, flavonoids and cannabinoids, as a means of protection. Another way to access this response is something called salicylic acid. In an article found in the journal, Food Science and Nutrition, a team of botanists from Urmia University of Medical Sciences in Iran, discovered that using salicylic acid as a foliar feed can increase cannabinoid, flavonoid, and terpene production. When sprayed on the cannabis plant the acid regulates the jasmonate signaling pathway naturally found in cannabis. This makes the flavonoid and terpene synthesis more efficient, increasing their values by several percentage points. The most well-known nutrient used for terpene enhancement is the Terpinator. The product contains no methyl jasmonate or salicylic acid, instead its main ingredient is potassium (K) which increases enzyme activity making the essential oil production more efficient. Another product on the market is FlaVUH from Ventana Plant Science; it uses a proprietary polyaspartic amino acid which increases the nutrient uptake to the plant, increasing yield and natural oil production. It also contains no jasmonate or salicylic acid.


UV Light

UV light has been found to also have a big impact on terpene production as well as an increase in cannabinoids. This comes from the fact that the plant naturally protects itself from UV light by increasing essential oil production. One of the more interesting advances in cultivation has been the improvement in the quality of LED lights. In recent years LED fixture companies have added UV diodes to their lighting fixtures, which causes cannabinoid and terpene values to increase. The long time question surrounding the benefits of outdoor vs. indoor cultivating has also found new evidence to support the benefits of UV light. In the journal Molecules a group of scientists from Columbia University, in partnership with several cultivators in California, tested the difference between outdoor and indoor cultivation. Using the same clones, medium, and nutrient regiments, they grew plants in outdoor farms and under artificial lights. Their discovery showed that not only were the terpene and cannabinoids higher in outdoor grows, but that there were also unique terpenes and minor cannabinoids detected in the plants grown outdoors. Additionally, the percentages of sesquiterpenes like b-caryophyllene and a-humulene were higher in the outdoor plants. One could speculate that those terpenes were more present in the outdoor plants because they needed extra protection from the UV light.


Temperature Control

Temperature control is another important factor in the production of terpenes. Typically by lowering the temperatures at the end of your flower cycle you will also see an increase in terpene production. Usually a drop between 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit will do the trick. An added benefit to dropping the temperatures is that flavonoid production will also increase and the plants that naturally get purple will also increase the amount of color present in the buds.

Harvesting Schedule

A harvesting schedule is a fairly easy factor to control since the advent of cannabinoid and terpene testing labs. In the past we had to rely on loupes or magnifying glasses to study the color of the trichomes. Now you can test your flower at any point in the harvest cycle and pick the perfect moment of ripeness, depending on your needs. Usually for terpene production you want to harvest a bit on the earlier side, whereas with THC you’ll want to harvest a bit later in the cycle.


Drying & Curing

Drying and curing is just as important a process as growing is. Most people forget that your nine weeks of work can easily be ruined by an improper cure or storage. Especially in cities like Denver where the altitude can easily dry out your flower. My preference for drying is a lower temperature environment between 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit and around 55-60% relative humidity. I also like to keep the fan leaves on the plant as well as keeping the plant as intact as possible. This allows the cannabis to dry at the slowest possible rate preserving the essential oils. As for storage, glass is always better than plastic, unless you can nitrogen flush and vacuum seal the bags. The key to storing flower is to have a full jar. The head space in the jar, which is the native space between the lid and the flower is what causes the terpenes to slowly evaporate, therefore pick a jar size that can be filled to the top. Some people also swear by the use of the humidity-regulating packs. I personally have found that they cause a reaction to some of the more volatile terpenes with the result being a more homogenous smell across different cultivars. I would say invest in some research and test your flower before and after using any humidity packs to see if they work for you.


Finally, genetics can also play an important role in terpene-rich flower. The key here is to experiment with your environment and keep testing. Test which cultivars work best for you, for your environment and for the nutrient program you are using. Science is your ally here, use cannabis testing labs to your advantage. Remember that science is based on proof and not belief, so using it will help you discover more about your flower and the chemical compounds found within. This will allow you to grow the dankest, loudest, and most potent flower you can. May the terpenes be with you.

This article was originally published in the May 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.

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Cannabis Linked to Epigenetic Changes: Study

Researchers have linked cannabis to epigenetic changes, according to a new study published in Molecular Psychiatry. The study looked at over 1,000 adults and found an association between cannabis use and changes in epigenetic markers. Of course, the study didn’t establish cause and effect. Does cannabis directly cause these changes? Are these changes known to cause health problems? Even the study’s authors admitted the study’s limitations. “Additional studies are needed to replicate and verify these findings,” said Lifang Hou, MD, Ph.D. […]

The post Cannabis Linked to Epigenetic Changes: Study appeared first on Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana | News.

Moxie: A California Legacy With a History of Quality

As cannabis policy reform measures continue to take hold across the country, nearly half the states in the nation have now legalized recreational marijuana. With each new state comes new opportunities that have spawned thousands of cannabis operators from coast to coast. But with so many brands out there, consumers can find it difficult to choose new cannabis products with confidence.

Choosing products from a company with a strong history can be one way to navigate through all the brands found at a local dispensary. In four states with legal weed, consumers are finding that California-based Moxie fits the bill as a company with roots in the legacy market that pairs top-of-line genetics with innovative processes to create products that have won more than 100 coveted cannabis industry awards, including dozens of High Times Cannabis Cup trophies.

Since the company’s inception nearly a decade ago, Moxie has prided itself on producing potent, flavorful concentrates fit for the most discriminating cannabis connoisseurs. That reputation continues today with its extensive line of top-self cannabis flower and extractions. Utilizing pharmaceutical-grade technology and strict safety standards in their cultivation facilities, Moxie provides customers with high-quality recreational and medical marijuana products from its library of hundreds of cannabis varietals.

Moxie was founded in California in 2014, even before recreational marijuana was legalized in the state. Operating under Proposition 215, the groundbreaking ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana in 1996, Moxie’s founders set out to make industry-leading concentrates to provide medicinal cannabis patients with effective and enjoyable formulations. Only a year later, the company took advantage of the growing medical cannabis environment and became a multi-state cannabis operator (MSO) with an expansion into the Michigan and Nevada medical marijuana markets in 2016. 

The same year, California voters took the next step in ending the prohibition of cannabis with the passage of Proposition 64, the ballot initiative that legalized recreational marijuana in the Golden State. One year later, the company cemented its place in weed history as the first cannabis company to be licensed by California regulators. The milestones continued to come only one year later with the expansion into Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana market and the 2018 opening of one of the state’s first grower/processor facilities in the state. The same year, Moxie was recognized as the Brand of the Year at the California Cannabis Association Awards.

Recognizing the need for a cannabis industry that treads lightly on the environment, Moxie launched the company’s sustainability efforts in 2020, pledging to be the first carbon-negative cannabis operator. In pursuit of the company’s sustainability goals, Moxie has overhauled its packaging by reducing the use of plastic and using FSC-certified paper, grass paper labels and chlorine-free dyes. Additionally, Moxie’s indoor cannabis cultivation facilities have been outfitted with energy-efficient LED grow lights to maximize efficiency, and the company is working with waste management companies to convert production waste into energy. 

Moxie And High Times

The next big step in Moxie’s history came in 2022 when Hightimes Holding Corporation, the owner of High Times, announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Moxie’s California operations. The acquisition gives High Times new cannabis cultivation and production capabilities to complement its current portfolio of cannabis holdings in California, the largest legal marijuana market in the world, where it operates branded dispensaries and offers licensed cannabis products. The deal also makes High Times the most well-known brand in the Golden State with a vertically integrated cannabis operation. 

“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,” Jordan Lams, CEO and founder of Moxie, said about the agreement at the time. “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.”

Currently, Moxie can be found in four states—California, Missouri, Utah and Pennsylvania. The company’s genetics are grown and packaged as cured cannabis flower, or processed into a variety of concentrates. Live resin badder and sauce offer dabs with superior potency and flavor, while vape carts and pods provide convenience. In addition to Moxie, the company’s family of brands includes MX, HighNow and MX Sport, all available at select licensed dispensaries.

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NukeHeads, the Most Advanced Seed Bank in the Cannabis Industry

Hi, I’m Cody Oebel, the owner of seed bank the most advanced seed bank in this industry. If you would like to join my Facebook page please click here:

I’m excited to share with you what NukeHeads does that is radicalizing the seed bank industry. So how did I take the age-old seed bank industry and turn it upside down on its head you might be wondering?

I did it with robotics, automation, C/C++ programming and 3D SLS, SLA, and FDM printing technologies combined with building relationships with the world’s best breeders and seed production farms!

Wow, what a mouth full right? So, what is it that NukeHeads does for marijuana growers differently than other seed banks?

Courtesy NukeHeads

When you order from NukeHeads we 3D design a laboratory container with your name designed into it, custom to you, that can protect your seeds from over 300lbs of crush force.

This customized container is just cool factor, right? Well, it’s not just cool. It’s practical to ensure that when we ship your seeds in the mail they get to you safely, but it’s more than that. Imagine when you show your medical patients or customers this customized lab container box with your name on it holding the seeds you’re growing. This tells your customers or patients that you only grow the best, that the genetics you purchase are meticulously cared for and a lot of work goes into the breeding work. The presentation shows you’re a serious grower and you buy from the most legitimate quality seed bank, and you grow genetics that’s seriously going to help medicate people. 

So as you see the job of the lab container is to protect your seeds in shipment, but it’s much more than that. Using 3D design software, we at NukeHeads are able to predict how much weight the design can sustain before your seeds get crushed. We carefully design around practical situations that can very much happen like a mailman stepping on your box or dropping something on your box. We want you to not have a bad day with crushed seeds that we hear occurs with how our competitors send seeds. Most of our competitors ship seeds in poorly structured glass tubes, encased in cardboard boxes that have flashy looking printing which means nothing when it arrives crushed in the mail. Even worse is most seed banks sending seeds in mylar baggies which have a huge percentage of seeds being crushed in the mail; this can really set you back on your grow schedule. With NukeHeads you won’t have this issue!

Our designs have proudly boasted a zero loss in the mail. We have had our containers get crushed badly but no seeds lost. When you need your seeds on time for a grow cycle you can count on NukeHeads.

Not only do we send this strong lab container we designed using generative design processes within computer aided drafting, but our lab containers are designed to take a few hundred pounds of crushing.

Each lab container we send you comes custom with your first and last name on it or your business name (it’s customizable just email to ask how

Courtesy NukeHeads

Customers who order 1,000 seeds or greater—bulk customers—we design you something completely unique. In fact, you can request a design you want. Some customers have requested a custom designed treasure box, or custom designed lock box with a key and lock, or their business logo be designed onto the box, or all the above combined. We can fully accommodate those customizations as we do all designs in house. We use $120,000 3D Printers boasting Hewlett Packard’s latest technology in their Model 580 Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer, as well as older technologies we incorporate into our production processes. We also use $500,000 Omax water jet cutting machines to make our grow light designs in house; we build them here in the United States of America. Most of our products are USA designed while we do have some of our products manufactured offshore in China, we mostly keep what we do here in the USA!

When you want top phytocertified lab grade genetics, NukeHeads seed bank is the leader in this regard. We are not only open to working with other seed banks who cannot match us in our technologies but produce amazing genetics, but we also work with huge farms producing feminized seeds at wholesale prices. NukeHeads has some of the lowest priced seeds in this industry, but lowest price doesn’t mean lower quality. No, what we have done in the four million dollars spent over three years is negotiate relationships to make NukeHeads seed bank the giant in the industry. We bulk order in advance from our fem seed breeders and farms and we bulk supply numerous businesses, and home growers. What our customers like most about our seeds is how fresh they are, and the high germination rates, and super low hermaphrodite reports. Sadly, the only complaints we see seem to be from dirty tactics of competitors having their people write false reports or making fake YouTube videos with false complaints about us. To combat this, we created, and invite everyone to join, our Facebook group with thousands of growers who grow our genetics who can share their actual buyer experience with you. We did this to remove any concerns new customers may have simply just click here and start talking with real growers on Facebook like yourself and ask them about NukeHeads genetics. Let them show you their plants and you will see for yourself why choosing to order from NukeHeads for all your feminized seeds is the best choice! You can also simply search for the NukeHeads Medical Cannabis Growers group on Facebook and join it that way, too! 

Courtesy NukeHeads

I’d like to thank you for your time today, but one last thing: If you grow magic mushrooms or drink coffee, we sell spores and green coffee beans you can purchase and roast yourself to your own darkness level. Providing you the most epic combination of quality coffees, mushroom spore genetics, and marijuana seeds to enjoy in the morning before you do that hard grow work in the garden!

Much love and STAY NUKED UP!

The post NukeHeads, the Most Advanced Seed Bank in the Cannabis Industry appeared first on High Times.

Breeding for Dummies: How To Make Your Weed Plants Screw

So you want to play around with plant intercourse! That’s great. I’m here to help you with that, and I’ve enlisted the help of some of the finest weed wizards on planet Earth to assist me. It’s not exactly simple, but it’s easy enough to accomplish in the comfort of your own home if you’re dedicated enough. For the sake of simplicity and efficiency, I’m going to boil this down to some very rudimentary and basic options. Breeding is a complex art that has an unlimited complexity threshold, and as such, it would be insane to explain all of it in a short article such as this.

First thing’s first, you’re going to need space, at least 4×4 feet if not 4×8 or more, and a grow tent. I’d recommend at least a 4×8 but you can make it work with a 4×4. Vivosun makes superb grow tents and I’ve used my 4×4 for years. They also have a whole line of at-home grow equipment that works great, with the exception of the lights. I haven’t tried them myself but we all know by now you’re either running 1000 watt HPS light or fancy-pants LEDs and this isn’t a how-to-grow article so figure out your own damn equipment and nutrients and all that.

As with most living creatures, drugs or otherwise, you need male and female cannabis plants to make seeds. If you grow cannabis enough to want to learn breeding, you probably know how to weed out male plants from female plants but to briefly summarize: in the little node under the branch of the cannabis plant are the plant’s sex organs. Male plants have actual balls or “pollen sacs” and female plants have “pistils” which look like wispy little hairs. 

If male plants are allowed to pollinate the female plant, the female will grow seeds within the buds that you would normally smoke. Every seed will grow into a unique “phenotype” of whatever the “strain” is. So if you cross a DoSiDo plant with a Chemdawg plant and they produce 100 seeds, all the female seeds would grow up into unique combined versions of both the parent strains, each exhibiting slightly different flavor, smell, and effect profiles. That, dear reader, is where the fun part starts. You can build your own cannabis experience from scratch in a sense and every breeder likes to build differently.

“Most of the time, I’m looking for something hybridized with the best components and [traits] of each cross,” said Alex from Clearwater Genetics, whom I have personally dubbed the reigning king of Now N’ Laters crosses. “I need to see kind of the best of both worlds there. I need to see a real 50-50 hybrid, or, depending on what I’m going for, you know, maybe a 75-25, something like that. Otherwise, you just grow the fucking strain.”

Now it isn’t quite as easy as saying “I want to make a strain that tastes like Zkittlez, yields four pounds per light and gets you high like OG.” That’s what Scott from Sexual Chocolate Factory would call a unicorn strain and while they do come around every so often, they’re one-in-a-million. Genetics also don’t really work like that. There tends to be a give-and-take which is why you might notice strains that taste amazing don’t get you as high as you might like and vice versa. So keep that in mind when embarking on your breeding journey.

There are two main methods of doing this that you’ll want to consider:

Pollen sacs on a male plant of “Ztan Lee.” Photo submitted by Scott from Sexual Chocolate Factory.

Method 1 – Reversals

Reversals are a process of taking a female clone of a strain you want to cross and spraying it with Silver Thiosulfate spray during the early stages of flower to reverse it into a male plant which you would then use to pollinate your chosen female plants.

“It’s hard to find a good male of your favorite cultivar ultimately. If you have like a Trainwreck or Pink Certz or a Pave, it’s hard to find a male with those traits,” said Chris Compound, formerly of Compound Genetics and the mastermind behind strains like Apples & Bananas and Grape Gas. “With fems, you can create a male, reverse male of those strains.”

This method makes it much easier to pick traits you want to pass on to your cross because you don’t have to play a guessing game like you do with male plants, you can just take clones from your female plants like you normally would and pick your favorites to reverse and breed with after the previous generation has been harvested and sampled.

“My Oreocake cross with Now N’ Later #47 was the winner out of like 120 plus. So, we flowered it. They hit 3.8 pounds per light. All right, just a beast, just a fucking beast,” said Alex from Clearwater Genetics. “I’ll take that. and I have 27 that I’m reversing right now. I’ll take those. And I’ll spray those down with SDS and do our thing, and basically just have a huge fucking stash of pollen.”

Method 2 –  Playing With Dudes

This method involves popping regular, unfeminized seeds and sorting through the males and females. You would then pick a strong male and use it to pollinate female plants of your choosing. Choosing a strong male is where it gets complicated.

“Your only indicator early on is stem rubs,” said Scott from Sexual Chocolate Factory, the company that bred the illustrious Randy Watzon. “Another indicator later on in life is pollen sacks. Pollen sacks and plant matter will start to develop trichomes just like the female plant, but just in different areas. So you’ll have indicators of what the resin and the fragrances will be, if you’re lucky to find a male that will exhibit these trichomes because it’s not all males that do it.”

Once you’ve chosen your stud you can either collect the pollen to apply to the female plants as you choose or just keep the plants in the same room until seeds form.

This method is a bit more complicated, especially in a limited home setup. You very well might fuck up the timing or choose a male that isn’t the best stud, which is why a lot of commercial breeders choose method 1. Method 2 just requires a bit more patience but it gets much easier if your at-home setup has a divider to create two different rooms, which is why I specifically recommended the Vivosun 4×8. You can keep your males and females separate and pollinate on your own time, rather than dialing everything in by the exact day of flower and all that jazz.

No matter which method you choose, you don’t have to waste all your bud just to get some seeds. If you separate your male plants and collect pollen, rather than keeping the plants together and allowing them to openly pollinate, you can literally take a paintbrush, dip it in pollen and place it on however many buds you wish to impregnate. Be sure to wrap the rest of the plant in a trash bag when you do this so you don’t get any pollen in places it shouldn’t go.

Pollen sacs on a male plant of “Ztan Lee.” Photo submitted by Scott from Sexual Chocolate Factory.

Breeding for Hash

I had to squeeze this in for all the low-temp warriors and hash dorks out there. A big topic in the industry seems to be how in the Sam-hell to intentionally grow plants that will produce a lot of hash. For those who don’t know, hash washing is the process of knocking the trichome heads off of the cannabis bud to collect, dry, and vaporize. As with the other traits of the cannabis plant, breeding for hash involves seeking out strains we already know produce good hash yield or good hash taste and choosing those strains to cross.

“When I cross, first of all, the plants I want to pollinate I kinda make sure they already have characteristics for hash washing like good trichome production,” said Compound. “If you’re doing a reverse you don’t want to reverse something that’s a bad washer to begin with.”

Other indicators of good hash yield include a “sandiness” or “grittiness” to the trichomes, but it is important to note that a good yield does not always equal a good flavor. Scott from Sexual Chocolate Factory explained that it’s a dichotomy between genetic traits, a give-and-take essentially between taste and yield that isn’t necessarily a direct correlation.

“Sandy [trichomes] is what you’re looking for when you’re touching flower, and you can feel the grittiness of the trike zones and between your fingers. That is an indicator of a good washer. Whether it’s a desirable washer is another story,” Scott said. “With race cars, you can have a lot of horsepower. But that comes with a lot of weight.”

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The Main Strain: Magnum PI by TreeHawk Farms

When it comes time for TreeHawk Farms CEO Jason Olsen to determine the strain allotments for his indoor grow space, he always saves plenty of room for Magnum PI. A top seller for his Chimacum, WA-based business, Magnum PI is a citrus-heavy sativa cross of Blue Hawaiian and Agent Orange. According to Olsen, the strain has become quite popular with local consumers looking for a functional, daytime high.

“If I’m going to a [Seattle] Seahawks’ game, or if we’re going to sit down and have a cup of coffee, I’d be smoking Magnum,” Olsen says. “It gives you that ‘happy day’ feeling, like the sun’s out. It’s a euphoric, stimulating sativa high, which a lot of people love.”

Magnum PI is a citrus-heavy sativa cross of Blue Hawaiian and Agent Orange.

Proof of Magnum PI’s popularity in Washington is evidenced by the fact that Olsen and his small staff of ten are constantly seeking to restock supply of the strain to the 30 or so stores within the state that currently carry TreeHawk’s products. A holdover from Washington’s days as a medical-only market, Magnum PI is believed to have originated with Seahorse Gardens, a breeder near Puget Sound. 

For the past five-and-a-half years, however, consumers eager to taste this explosion of orange-centric terpenes and enjoy the ensuing, energizing high, have had only one option: Olsen. In truth, it was his great-grandfather and grandfather who first put his family on their current path when they bought the property that’s now TreeHawk Farms back in the 1950s and started a dairy farm. Eventually, diminishing returns and deaths in the family left Olsen, 38, to determine what course to pursue next.

TreeHawk Farms CEO Jason Olsen says Magnum PI gives a “euphoric, stimulating sativa high.”

“Small dairies had started to go out of business,” Olsen says. “There were eight dairies in this little valley that all shared a milk truck. We were all land-rich and money poor. Once my uncle passed away, and with costs around the business going up, it just didn’t seem like it could be profitable going forward, so we closed down.”

From Patient to Producer

As a lifelong cannabis consumer, Olsen says he applied for and received a medical card with the state as soon as the opportunity first arose. During his time as a medical patient, Olsen recalls observing the potential for a retail cannabis market and quickly realizing that if he wanted to act, the time was fast approaching. Seeing cannabis as a viable way to reinvent his family’s property with a new agricultural slant, Olsen and his wife made the decision to use their life savings to start TreeHawk Farms.

Magnum PI is a cultivar that’s unique to TreeHawk Farms.

Despite a lengthy application process, battles over water usage and a spate of other bureaucratic hurdles, their efforts would ultimately prove highly successful. 

Today, Olsen oversees an indoor production flow that yields about 60 pounds of cannabis each month. In addition to perennial favorite Magnum PI, the farm’s also renowned for their Candyland Cookies strain, which combines two classics in the form of Granddaddy Purple and Bay Platinum Cookies. Other notable strains on the TreeHawk menu include Chocolate Thai and The Wills, although Olsen acknowledges that his Magnum PI is likely a cut above the rest.

TreeHawk products (L) and a trimmed nug of Magnum PI that has “bag appeal,” according to Olsen (R).

“It has the bag appeal,” he says. “It’s covered in sugar. It’s just a really beautiful plant. It really liked our feeding regimen and everything just fell into place.”

Room to Grow

Currently encompassing a trio of 600-square-foot grow rooms, each with 21 lights, TreeHawk Farms will soon expand its operations to include a fourth room, which Olsen confirms will include a whole row of what amounts to a third of the room’s potential production—to growing Magnum. The reasoning is simple: people just can’t get enough of it. 

Magnum PI is laden with trichomes.

“A lot of people get strain-tired,” Olsen says. “With Candyland, I’m probably going to back off on that a little bit because people just want something different after a while. I haven’t had to do that at all with Magnum. I sell out, so I have to divvy up our harvest to spread it out to our stores as best we can, but everyone will take twice as much Magnum as any other strain, without blinking. The demand is still there.”

What is it about this tropically flavored, funk-forward blast of cerebral stimulation that makes it such a mainstay for Washington State cannabis regulars? Perhaps it’s the cut, maybe it’s the care that goes into cultivating it but most likely it’s a potent combination of both. After all, beyond the caché that comes with growing rarer, more exotic strains, there’s a family legacy inherent to TreeHawk Farms that clearly informs not only its craft approach but the quality of the finished product. 

And for now, Olsen is proud to say that the reputation of Magnum PI can be directly traced to his efforts to bring his family’s farm back to life under the auspices of his new cannabis enterprise and its star strain.

“Honestly, there’s no one else that has this particular strain,” Olsen says, “So, if you’ve smoked Magnum PI in the last five years, you got it through TreeHawk Farms.”

Strain: According to Olson, the name is a play on the strain’s lineage: Blue Hawaiian x Agent Orange. It reminded him of a Hawaiian private investigator, like Tom Selleck from the TV show Magnum P.I.

Breeder: Seahorse Gardens in Seattle, Washington.

Type: Sativa Hybrid

Genetics: Blue Hawaiian x Agent Orange

Taste: A citrusy orange-lemon flavor with a little tropical earthy funk on the back end.

Flowering:  9-10 weeks

The post The Main Strain: Magnum PI by TreeHawk Farms appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Royal Queen Seeds Launches F1 Hybrid Seeds

As all good cultivators know, the most crucial part of growing cannabis is twofold: choosing the right genetics and sourcing them from a reputable seed bank or breeder. Royal Queen Seeds, regarded as one of Europe’s leading cannabis seed banks, just launched a new range of F1 hybrid cannabis seeds—the first cannabis company to offer a true F1 hybrid cannabis cultivar.

With over ten years of experience breeding exceptional cultivars and delivering world-class customer service, Royal Queen Seeds (RQS) is a leader in the cannabis genetics space. The Barcelona-based company’s new F1 hybrid seeds are already being touted as revolutionary for today’s cannabis industry, just as feminized seeds were in the ‘90s.

“F1 hybrids are uniform plants with countless benefits for all sectors of the cannabis industry: Medical patients will benefit from consistent, quality cannabinoids; commercial growers will be able to streamline their operations by working with a reliable crop; and even home growers will have access to more potent, higher-yielding plants for their gardens/tents,” says Shai Ramsahai, CEO of Royal Queen Seeds. “The new autoflowering F1 hybrids have a solid structure, are nicely uniform, and have a beautiful inflorescence structure—almost indistinguishable from a photo-dependent cannabis plant.” 

Creating pure inbred lines.

Understanding F1 Hybrid Seeds

F1 hybrid seeds result from cross-pollinating two different parent plants to breed a plant selectively. Genetically speaking, the term is an abbreviation for Filial 1, which means “first children.”

The RQS team started developing the F1 hybrid seeds in 2019 when the bank created its first pure inbred lines (IBLs), a technique the vegetable industry used for decades to create uniform produce. Breeders select two plants (or lines) with desirable qualities—for example, high yields or particular terpene profiles—and then intentionally mate the plants together. Once confident they had created the optimum traits, RQS applied the same technology to cross its IBLs, creating the new genetics.

F1 Hybrid Seeds
Trimmed Titan F1 hybrid buds.

The initial RQS F1 hybrid seed launch includes a CBD strain called Cosmos F1, which offers high CBD levels, high yields and seven THC cultivars with the following favorable characteristics:

  • Hyperion F1: Touted as the tallest plant, this is a vigorous and resistant cultivar.
  • Apollo F1: A compact and robust plant with a lavender aroma.
  • Titan F1: The plant’s highest THC level offering is matched its high trichome density.
  • Milky Way F1: A uniform and convenient plant with a delicious, chocolatey flavor.
  • Orion F1: This sizable and resilient plant delivers large yields.
  • Epsilon F1: With a low odor output, this plant is a great option for discreet growers.
  • Medusa F1: Offers the highest flower density and high levels of the CBG cannabinoid.
Seed packs.

The Benefits of Choosing F1 Hybrid Seeds

With a promise of unbeatable consistency and superior results with exceptional traits in every harvest, the autoflowering F1 attributes include high THC levels, fast flowering, larger yields and greater resistance to stress and uniformity.

Let’s explore three of the ways F1 hybrid seeds will outperform traditional seeds:

1. Greater Yields

Certain inputs will affect a cannabis plant’s end output, including lighting, nutrients and even the size of the pot. However, every cannabis cultivar is genetically predisposed to produce yields within a specific range. With F1 hybrid seeds, every plant is selected to deliver the most significant yield. As they say, the greater the yield, the greater the reward. 

2. Consistency and Stability

Medical patients will benefit from the uniform cannabinoid and terpene profiles offered with F1 hybrid seeds. One of the perks of synthetic cannabinoid medicine like Dronabinol is its consistent cannabinoid delivery, which some patients find therapeutic for their health concerns. This helps give patients peace of mind, as they can rest easy knowing the cannabinoid content in their medicine will always be consistent. 

3. Autoflowering

The new F1 hybrid cannabis seeds are auto-flowering, meaning that after two to four weeks of growth, the plants will start to flower independently. This is a convenient characteristic for growers, as it removes the need to switch the light schedule to initiate and maintain the plant’s flowering phase.

As Ramsahai says, “Royal Queen Seeds’ new F1 hybrids are set to transform the cannabis industry with superior performance, offering growers uniform plants with higher yields, increased THC potency and unbeatable F1 stability.” 

The post Royal Queen Seeds Launches F1 Hybrid Seeds appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Weed’s Tissue Culture Moment Has Arrived

Whether it’s for orchids, berries, or bananas, plant tissue culture has been widely used in agriculture for nearly 40 years to produce uniform and disease-free stock. But when it comes to cannabis, this technology has only emerged within the last few years as scientists working with weed cracked the code of what the plant wants to reproduce successfully at a small scale. Joining in the fight against one of pot’s primary foes, hop latent viroid disease, cannabis tissue culture is a new path forward towards preserving the genetics of one of the most diverse botanicals on the planet. And, while cultivators have been able to get their hands on tissue culture-grown cuts for about eight years, tissue culture clones were made available to the public for the first time through Node Labs at the Emerald Cup Harvest Ball held in December 2022.

“Cannabis is a very tissue culture resistant plant. There are certain plants that are that way,” says Lauren Avenuis, CEO of Node Labs, explaining why it took so long for the technology to become viable for cannabis. “So, like avocados, grape vines, they just don’t like to go into micropropagation. They don’t like that kind of replication. And since cannabis is an annual plant, it likes to grow from a seed, flower, and die.”

The scientists working with Node, a small lab located within an unassuming red barn in rural Petaluma, California, spent years studying tissue culture before discovering the methodology that made stem cell technology for cannabis work. Now that they have, their facility houses an impressive bank of cannabis genetics. It causes a few snickers when I say it aloud, but being inside a room filled with shelves devoted to tissue culture clones, each in their own container, reminds me of being in a pet store aquarium. All the plants are growing within a clear jelly-like substance derived from seaweed called agar, allowing their whole root structure to be seen. They are tiny terrariums that hold the story of pot’s past, present, and future.

Courtesy Node Labs

Chief Science Officer Chris Leavitt walks me through the procedures at Node by explaining that plants, unlike humans, do not have an awareness of their entire body.

“[Plants] are a colony of cells that are attached to each other,” Leavitt says. “So if a stem is receiving all the like sap that it would be getting normally in the agar, it doesn’t even know that it’s not still attached to the plant. You can grow plant parts in tissue culture in a way you cannot grow outside. You can grow a dissection of just a leaf or just a stem… you can really break the rules of typical plant growing by having it in that setting.”

My tour at Node starts in the pre-fab clean room where the media, the agar, is mixed within an autoclave, a device designed for sterilization. This room is also where the other tools used for the tissue culture process, such as scissors and jars, are sterilized. I put on a second set of surgical booties before heading into the growth chamber and transfer room, where I watch the hot agar being dispensed into the same clear plastic containers I see in the bulk food section of my local grocery store. Within this room, the air quality is at ISO 8, a measure that contains a thousand specks of dust within a cubic yard that is also used in electronic and medical manufacturing. All the sterilization and air cleanliness ensure no contamination enters the lab.

“One of the things that we do here is we clean plants,” says Luis Mautner, Node’s director of propagation. “Cleaning plants is a process by which you take a plant from the outside world and you run it through a process that we developed here. We select the plants that do not have any issues associated with them like pathogenic bacteria, fungi, fusarium being one of the ones that affects the cannabis industry very much. Also, we index for HLVd, which is hop latent viroid.”

Mautner started working with cannabis after a career in tissue culture that included work with the berry company Driscoll’s and tropical ornamental plants such as peace lilies. He says the clear media is used because it’s diagnostic and shows when things should not be growing on the plant.

Next, we enter another room where shelves store cannabis plants in various stages of growth. There are also shelves containing some other plants Node is testing for research, including wine grapes and the cutest tiny Tempranillo.  

To start work with Node, clients provide 10 clone stems from a cannabis plant to form what Mautner calls a bouquet. The clones are broken down to the cellular level because cannabis has a strong affinity for endogenous contaminants within its stem, Leavitt explains. The scientists at Node cut the clones down to one part, the meristem, a type of tissue in plants that houses stem cells, or cells from which all other types of cells develop.

“What we’ve found is when you have the meristem dissection, you can avoid that,” Leavitt says.

“What you’re basically doing is taking [the cannabis clones] down to essentially the stem cells of the plant,” Avenius adds. “So you’re eliminating all of the epigenetic, all of the genetic toggles related to stress or environment. You’re getting [the plant] down to its pure expression, its genetics, and then also removing essentially all the vascular tissue. So you’re just getting a brand new pure example and sample of that cannabis plant that we can now grow into tissue culture free of any other influences and then see its pure genetic expression.”

When cut down to the meristem, the clones are only about half a millimeter to a millimeter in size. Once the plants grow bigger and start looking like cannabis plants instead of little blobs, they are tested for HLVd. HLVd is a widespread pathogen in cannabis clones that causes growth stunting and reduces the plant’s ability to produce trichomes. Leavitt explains that HLVd is like skin cancer in that it can affect one part of the plant, but not another. This is another reason tissue culture has been such a valuable tool in combating the virus because it reduces a plant to its most basic elements.

After the plants have passed the extensive screening process, they are grown to about 3 to 4 inches and are used to fill the bank, the system in which Node keeps cannabis genetics within a genetic library. 

“These two refrigerators play a huge role in the large genetics cannabis market,” Avenius says as I eye Node’s genetic bank, containing work from cannabis breeders like Sherbinski and Masonic as well as companies like Cannarado, Connected, and smaller growers like Sonoma Hills Farm, which banked its Pink Jesus

The seed bank aspect of the company ties into the beginnings of Node Labs. Node was founded in 2018 after Felipe Recalde, CEO of Compound Genetics and Node co-founder, lost his genetic library of cannabis cultivars and his home in the Tubbs Fire, the most destructive wildfire in California’s history that tore through Santa Rosa in 2017. Recognizing everyone around him had also lost their mom stock, Recalde saw tissue culture as the future for genetic preservation. He’d been experimenting with faulty kits for tissue culture since 2010. Still, it wasn’t until he partnered with Leavitt, who had been working on using tissue culture to preserve endangered species, that he saw that tissue culture could be viable for cannabis. Nowadays, genetics are stored within the lab and at a place offsite to serve as an additional backup against a disaster like a fire. 

Some of the work Node does is private client services of storing the genetics, but some companies like Connected Cannabis Co. also have certified genetics available for licensing. The consistency of the tissue culture clones one receives from Node Labs ensures that brands that operate in many states, like one of the lab’s partners Khalifa Kush backed by rapper Wiz Khalifa, can provide standardized, consistent flowers across the country. Node’s primary partnership with Compound Genetics allows the lab to grow clones to flower for clients to test. The minds at Compound Genetics grow plants from seed in their San Francisco facility and phenohunt to provide the best clone selections for their clients. The process at Node gives the genetics an authentication that does not occur if someone obtains a clone cut from a friend.  

The future of the tissue culture industry is not in creating a million plants to order, but instead holding genetics and delivering mother plants that growers can multiply through traditional propagation, Leavitt says. 

“The main functionary of [tissue culture] here is not in micropropagation. It’s not to get you 50,000 plants in one go,” Leavitt explains of the difference in tissue culture techniques in cannabis versus traditional agriculture. “It’s germplasm storage, which is the fancy term in the agriculture issue of holding genetics, genetic banking.”

Another indication of the future of cannabis propagation occurring at Node Labs is the process of in vitro phenohunts or growing seeds within the agar jelly within test tubes. Node takes a tissue culture from small plantlets the seeds produce and grows those plants out, saving time for cultivators because if they like the results, the tissue culture already exists.

Plantlets / Courtesy Node Labs

“It allows us to save a lot of time, but it also means that when we pop that seed and then we take that clone and put it out, we already have some of the advantages of tissue culture the first time we grow,” Avenuis says. “As an immature plant, it hasn’t been exposed to any viruses or pathogens. And then it has some of the unique morphology that you get from tissue culture plants. They tend to have higher vigor, higher yields, better stem strength. So you’re already seeing a better-performing plant from the very beginning.” 

Leavitt points out an example within the lab, Gastro Pop #5, a cross of Apples & Bananas and Grape Gas which was developed in-house via an in vitro phenohunt. 

“That Gastro Pop #5 over there, the plants in this lab have never seen microbial fungus and bacteria in their entire life,” Leavitt says. 

If someone finds an outstanding cultivar they are in love with, a six-month process to get a tissue culture clone could stunt the excitement, he explains.

“With that process, in vitro, we could have the excitement of smoking the joint and going ‘This is the one’ and going, ‘Cool, it’s here at the lab’ at the same time,” he says.

An in vitro phenohunt is how Sherbinski and Compound created Tribute, a cross of Gelato #41 and Apples & Bananas. Look out for future collaborations between Compound Genetics and Tiki Madman and Compound Genetics and Green House Seed Company

At the Emerald Cup Harvest Ball held in December 2022, Compound was able to offer “bare pulse” tissue culture clones of their newest offerings. These came without the agar jelly because the clones are more transportable that way. The bare pulse part comes from the fact that they are bare root or stored without soil around the roots. The bare pulse clones can be planted in a chosen medium and become a mother plant to power a grow with consistent genetics.

“We love this as the next gen of clones,” Avenuis says.

Bare pulse / Courtesy Node Labs

The whole process of tissue culture clones is an exciting new frontier for cannabis, one which I was able to experience firsthand when Recalde gifted me a tissue culture clone at a social gathering. I took the test tube, filled with a clone held in suspense within what I’ve since learned is agar, home and grew it out into a plant. At the time, I didn’t know that tiny plant contained within a test tube had the mighty makings to power a brand.

Read more about Node Labs in the upcoming Science & Technology issue of High Times Magazine.

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