Amazing Raw Cannabis Smoothie Recipes

A tall glass of fruits and vegetables blended with chopped, raw cannabis leaves and a tiny fresh bud or two, is just one of the methods of medicating that is gaining considerable attention. Because THC is activated by heat, using the raw plant allows for people to experience the benefits of CBD — from relief of inflammation to help with seizure disorders and anxiety — without making them high. That isn’t to say that this beverage can’t be enjoyed with a piece of a cannabis cookie, but drinking raw cannabis is purely medicinal.

Since most folks don’t have a juicer, these recipes use a blender. The plant is fibrous and can get stuck in the blades of the blender, so the weed that will be juiced must be thoroughly chopped before adding it to the appliance.

The two recipes here are quite different in their flavor profile. One is filled with fruits and vegetables, which translates into lots of nutrients and vitamins. It’s refreshing and light. Try playing around with the ingredients for a taste that’s just right. The second drink has health benefits as well, though it might feel like a super rich and creamy shake. Most of these ingredients might already be in the house to make these drinks.

Fresh Green

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 cups coconut water
1 avocado
¼ cup cilantro
¼ cup parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh cannabis
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons chia seeds

Directions: Combine all the ingredients in the blender. Pulse on low to start, turn to high and puree until smooth.

Bananarama  

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 large banana, peeled and sliced
4 tablespoons cocoa
2 ½ cups almond milk
½ cup peanut butter
¼ cup chopped fresh cannabis

Directions: Combine all the ingredients in the blender. Pulse on low to start, turn to high and puree until smooth.

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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Dutch Passion Spreads the Seeds

In 1997, a man named Henk van Dalen found “the Holy Grail.”
Starting in the 1970s, he’d grown his own cannabis, opened an Amsterdam
coffeeshop and founded one of the world’s first cannabis seed banks, but he
knew he was also capable of achieving a long-anticipated goal for cannabis
breeding: discovering how to create feminized seeds.

When van Dalen bred those first feminized seeds in 1997, he solidified his seed bank, Dutch Passion, as a pioneer in the international cannabis industry. Today, it’s been more than two decades since the invention of feminized seeds and the cannabis industry has new holy grails to chase — but van Dalen and Dutch Passion are still here chasing.

Dutch Passion’s Shaman.

I met Dutch Passion’s head of genetics and new territories, Mahmoud Hanachi, at the legendary cannabis author Ed Rosenthal’s home garden on a brisk Bay Area winter morning. Hanachi was visiting California from Amsterdam and looking to meet new potential business partners. In a crisp white button-up, faded jeans and white sneakers, Hanachi appeared the quintessential new school European cannabis businessman, and his sensibility matched. He’d woken up early, taken advantage of the time difference to get some work done and called his wife and children back home.

When we talked in Rosenthal’s garden, over a cup of tea and a smoke, Hanachi spoke about the cannabis industry with a clear-eyed candor. He joked about the ridiculous nature of cannabis laws around the globe (for example, in Austria, it is legal to grow cannabis as an ornamental plant, but not to harvest and sell the flower you’ve grown), but noted that the rest of the world is increasingly challenging America’s prohibition hegemony.

“The future is definitely going toward worldwide
legalization,” Hanachi said. “Some places will move faster than others, but
it’s just a matter of time.”

Then, as squirrels played in a nearby tree, Hanachi gave a
glimpse into what Dutch Passion’s new holy grail might be: a truly global,
recognizable cannabis flower brand, sold legally around the world.

Canada & Beyond

When it comes to the legal global cannabis market, all roads pretty much pass through Canada. For the past three years, Dutch Passion has been working on entering the Canadian market, and by 2018, they legally exported their seeds to many of Canada’s Licensed Producers. Hanachi says Dutch Passion is one of the only commercial cannabis seed companies that has been able to navigate the complex government regulations in Holland to get the necessary phytosanitary certificates to legally export their seeds.

Dutch Passion’s Passion #1.

But, perhaps most interestingly, Dutch Passion is now moving
beyond simply selling seeds. The company now also has branded pre-rolls and
cannabis flowers for sale through one Canadian producer, Weed Me — and those
products are sold in the same packaging as the Dutch Passion pre-rolls and
flower they now have for sale in Italy, where cannabis with less than 0.6
percent THC is legal for sale.

“We’re using the same packaging in Italy as Canada, because we want to have uniformity across the world,” Hanachi said. “In the future, if the U.S. opens up, we’d want to use the same packaging here.”

However, he added that Dutch Passion doesn’t have much interest in the U.S. hemp market, where — unless the FDA releases regulations limiting the sale of hemp flower with less than 0.3 percent THC — it is likely that a new legal market will develop rapidly this year.

Dutch Passion’s The Ultimate.

“For us, [hemp] wouldn’t be that interesting,” Hanachi said.
“We are recreational breeders and we have always bred recreational strains.”

Dutch Passion is certainly not the only cannabis company to
be eyeing global expansion, with Canadian firms acquiring the top brass in
pro-cannabis U.S. states almost every day and a handful of cultivating
companies expanding to newly legal countries like Colombia, Lesotho and
Macedonia. But given their unique position as a legal seed bank that can move
their genetics across international borders, as well as their OG legacy in the
industry, Dutch Passion could be the first to set up a recognizable and legal
cannabis product line that — like so many other products in our increasingly
globalized world — is exactly the same on one side of the planet as the other.

Strain Symphony

When it comes to the actual flower being sold, the
Amsterdam-based seed company is still focused on developing new seed lines. In
January, they released four new strains, all of them featuring genetics
garnering hype on the American side of the Atlantic.

There’s Meringue, a sweet cross between Wedding Cake and
Animal Cookies. There’s Mokum’s Tulip, a frosty Gelato and Sherbet cross, and
an autoflowering version of their award-winning Lemon Zkittlez. And finally,
there’s HiFi 4G, an interesting cross between a North American cut of WiFi OG
and Dutch Passion’s best European-style OG, Glueberry OG.

Dutch Passion’s Critical Orange Punch.

“Smoking HiFi 4G makes the experience of listening to music
a different kind of thing,” Hanachi says, lifting his hands up over his torso.
“You feel your body uptake the music.”

Hanachi says that they intentionally bred a top American OG with a top European OG in order to bring together two different terpene profiles and create a new flavor palate.

Dutch Passion’s seed relationship with Weed Me currently only flows in one direction, with Dutch Passion sending seeds to Canada. But soon, Hanachi says that they’re going to have a partnership in Canada where they can grow out their own strains and phenohunt on a large scale.

Dutch Passion’s Frisian Dew.

“Right now, we are working in our political climate in Holland, which is still underground, more or less,” Hanachi says, referencing Holland’s “backdoor problem,” whereby it is legal to have cannabis seeds and sell cannabis in coffeeshops, but not legal to grow on a large scale. “With the partnership we are building in Canada, we can work at a faster pace and breed for different cannabinoid levels. There are some interesting times still ahead of us.”

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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Buds & Baby Boomers

Steve,
51, remembers well the first time he got high.

“I was
a freshman in high school and my friend Chovi from India found me on the
handball court where I had been spray-painting images of Alfred E. Newman with
a stencil I’d made,” says Steve. “Chovi must’ve been about 4’6” and had this
massive afro shaped like a square helmet that was three sizes too big for his
face. The guy was hilarious based on looks alone. I had low expectations,
because I had tried pot twice before and had never felt anything. And I didn’t
notice much from this at first, either, but it turned out to be a creeper.”

Heading
home, Steve remembers “feeling like Albert Hofmann on his famous bike ride”
after discovering the formula for LSD. Then, suddenly, he found himself overly
high and met with a locked door at his parent’s house – meaning he’d have to
confront his mom.

“Oh
God, my mom was going to have to let me in,” he recalls. “I couldn’t face my
mom like that. As soon as she opened the door, I pushed past her and dashed up
the stairs. She shouted up to me all concerned, ‘Is everything okay?’ And I
shouted back, ‘Yep! Everything’s great, Mom!’ And I locked myself in my room
and played my KISS records.”

That
was 1977. Three businesses and a home in the wealthiest zip code of the Bay
Area later, Steve finds himself enjoying a new wave of Mary Jane’s alluring
wiles. Only these days, instead of rolling a doobie, he puffs his vape pen.

Steve’s story isn’t particularly unique. Baby boomers across the nation are getting reacquainted with cannabis after a hiatus from pot through their middle years. According to a 2012 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration comparing trends with 2002, cannabis use among people between the ages 50-54 and 60-64 has almost doubled. Meanwhile, pot use among boomers age 55-59 has more than quadrupled. And they’re not merely dabbling. The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that baby boomers are regularly consuming cannabis an average of once a week. And these numbers are expected to rise. By the end of 2015, nearly 111 million Americans over 50 were projected to be cannabis consumers, according to research by IBISWorld. That figure could jump another seven percent by 2020.

Baby boomers across the nation are getting reacquainted with cannabis after a hiatus from pot through their middle years.

Partly
responsible for this reefer renaissance is the rapidly increasing social
acceptance of cannabis as a medicine and recreational choice. 

“When
medical marijuana became a thing and I realized I could get a pot prescription
and get my anxiety issues under control at the same time, that’s when I got
reacquainted with pot,” says Steve.

Indeed, studies suggest that boomers are using cannabis medicinally more than recreationally, often to deal with age-related issues such as chronic pain, depression and rheumatoid arthritis. Even Steve calls his vape pen “the most entertaining anti-anxiety medicine I’ve ever been prescribed.” In fact, the only time he labels his cannabis consumption recreational is in the context of a bad trip.

“When I
first came back to it around 2009, I had just met a lady, so I asked the
budtender to give me the very best they had. I didn’t ask for a strain that
does a particular thing, or makes you feel any particular way – just the best.”

The budtender recommended OG Kush, a name that he says he’ll always remember just so that he can avoid its super strength. 

“It was
unbelievably intense,” he says. “Way too advanced for my old-school roots. I
brought it with me to my lady friend’s house, thinking I’d impress her with how
hip I was. We had tickets to a show, but ended up just sitting on the couch for
about four hours. Not talking, not moving; I wasn’t even sure she was still
there most of the time. Every now and then, she would laugh, then I’d start
laughing. Then it would be silent again for another hour. That was awkward. I
will never smoke a strain that strong again, not unless I’m method-acting for
the role of a corpse. There was nothing recreational about that experience at
all.”

With
potency five to 10 times greater than the Mexican swag smokers enjoyed in the ’70s,
baby boomers are understandably trepidatious about coming back to cannabis.

“I miss
the giggling,” continues Steve. “Pot back then used to be really light and
giggly. Today’s pot is too heavy for me. It weighs me down.”

Despite the industry’s race to breed strains with the highest THC possible, options do exist for baby boomers who want to get pleasantly elevated without blasting off into the stratosphere. Cannabis with THC in the low double-digits – say, the 10-14 percent range – may provide a low-impact way to get a gentle buzz. And with the advent of the vape pen, boomers are strolling the path back to pot with more ease and grace than ever.

“Last
year, I was bed-ridden after a skiing accident,” recalls Judith, a 60-year-old
San Francisco travel agent. “All I could do was lay in bed taking pain killers
and watching Netflix. The pain pills had me so groggy and out of it that I
would suffer through [the pain] as long as I could before finally giving in and
taking one. When my son came over and offered me a puff off his new vape pen –
my first thought was, ‘My goodness, what kind of robot joint is this?’ But let
me tell you, it literally changed my world.

“I
mean, it [worked] faster than the pain pills, and it didn’t turn me into a
zombie,” she says. “Pretty much one little puff every hour or two kept my pain
at bay, and I have to admit, it was pretty fun, too! I mean, I was laughing at
things that, on the pills, I couldn’t do more than stare at with my eyes glazed
over. With that little pen, I felt like myself again. And bonding with my son,
watching documentaries and laughing at movies together, was a brilliant,
unexpected bonus. Now when I have friends over, we’ll have a little vape with
our tea.”

Vape
pens are becoming ubiquitous as a discreet way for cannabists, many of them
boomers, to consume concentrated versions of the plant. Because it lends itself
so easily to taking just one puff at a time, the vape pen provides users with
an easier way to manage dosage. And because the oil contains such a high
concentration of THC to begin with, one hit will often suffice.

“That’s just a classy way to get high, in my opinion,” says Steve about vape pens. “Mine even doubles as a stylus. It’s my new favorite way to get high.”

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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‘Dirt Is Inert, Soil Is Alive’

It’s a dreary late-November day at Alter Farms and Cody Alter is ecstatic. No, not because of the 3,000 plus cannabis trees he and the crew were able to tackle before the rains came. Nor was it the fresh batch of seeds they collected from hand-pollinated varietals. For Alter, the excitement is in the soil.

“We planted our cover crop a little late but it sprouted and by spring these rows will be knee high in vegetation,” Alter says. “We are constantly growing something in our soil, the continuous growth maintains the microbial communities.”

I lean down and stick my hand into the soft earth, layered loosely with decomposing leaf matter and speckled with the tiny seedlings.

“This is some nice looking dirt,” I say.

From the look on Alter’s face, I can tell I’ve said something silly.

“Dirt is inert, soil is alive,” he responds with a grin.

Cody Alter examines the soil. Alter Farms sends soil samples in for regular testing to ensure it contains the right mineral balance for optimal plant growth.

This is my second trip to the licensed recreational cannabis producer outside Grants Pass, Oregon. I had visited earlier in the fall with my wife, a mycologist, who was tasked to sample root tips on the farm for fungal diversity. During that visit, we were blown away by the size and consistency of their acre of canopy, packed with vibrant bushes of colorful colas and buzzing with biodiversity. I had to ask what they fed their plants.

Alter replied proudly with their farm’s motto: “sun, water and soil.”

In an industry fueled by bottled liquid nutrients and heavy chemical fertilizers, it is a rarity to see low-input organic cannabis farming, especially at scale.

A few months later, I returned to the farm to learn some tricks-of-the-trade from Alter and his co-founders, Jason Rambo and Jodi Haines. None of the three 30-somethings match my stereotypical expectations of an organic farmer and neither does their jargon.

Rambo and Haines say they bought the property about three years prior. The grounds are neatly kempt and sprouting garden beds dominate the main field, while two greenhouses, fruit trees and compost piles all claim smaller sections of real estate. A pasture dotted with sheep and goats occupy about a third of the land. The livestock are for meat and their waste is used for compost.

Alter Farms, as viewed from above. The outdoor farm uses cover crops and works to improve the clay soil layer that is common in their growing area by adding all-natural nutrients to the soil.

The trio attributes some of their success to the better part of a decade they’ve spent growing cannabis together. According to Alter, sustainable farming practices have always been a priority. As far as pulling off this season’s massive field of flower with minimal inputs, they say it’s not so simple.

“I’ve done side-by-side comparisons with plants grown in commercial soil mixes and fed bottled chemical nutrients to others grown in a local soil with only top dressing and water,” Alter says. “I noticed a huge difference in flavor and pest resistance and, even though we aren’t able to completely quantify it yet, a more nutritionally complete flower.”

The concept of a nutritionally complete cannabis flower is entirely new to me and takes a few minutes to sink in. We know through scientific research that plants need little more than NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) to survive, but if a plant has the option of a complete diet of natural ingredients, won’t it thrive more? Akin to the difference between a greenhouse-grown tomato in a grocery store and a juicy mid-summer varietal grown at home, not all fruits are created equal. The color and shape may be the same, but I can’t shake the feeling one is better for the soul.

All of the founders agree the farm has taken plenty of labor and lots of love. For example, below their land is a common clay soil layer that growers in Southern Oregon refer to as the infamous “red clay death.” While many farmers would truck in hundreds of yards of pre-mixed peat moss, perlite and coco coir to cover the clay soil, Alter Farms took a different approach and worked to improve the clay soil itself.

ETV blooms brightly at Alter Farms.

“Everyone worries about heavy clay soils,” Alter says. “They are mineral rich, but the difficult part is making those minerals available.  We send our samples off for soil nutrient analysis every season and add what we need to allow our plants to uptake what is here.”

It’s only been a few weeks since Alter Farms finished harvesting, and the rows have already been tilled, amended, broad forked, planted with a cover crop and layered with locally collected leaf material.

I ask how much topsoil, sand, pumice or perlite they brought in initially to mix with the clay, and again, I feel as if I’ve said something silly. Their list of soil additives is incredibly short. However, they do admit, almost with shame, that before their first season they had enough forest humus trucked in to cover their rows with about a half-inch of material. Over the last two seasons, they’ve started building their own.

“Our cover crop is a mix of vetch, peas, cereal grains, a couple different mustards and a type of rye that, when we till it in the spring, has a fumigant effect that drives away pathogenic fungi and root-feeding nematodes and symphylans,” Alter says.

He explains that without tilling, the perennial grasses would take over the farm’s garden beds. The cover crop keeps the weeds at bay, adds biomass and restores nitrogen to the soil. In the spring, they till again, add amendments, plant the cannabis and top-dress a few remaining nutrients. Once in the ground, the plants only drink water.

Cody Alter Farms Oregon Marijuana Cover Crops Cannabis Now

Cody Alter walks the sprouting field at Alter Farms in November. Continually growing something in the soil helps to restore nitrogen levels.

In the grey gloom of the late fall day, my mind travels back to my previous visit in the sunshine. At the ends of the beds and along fence lines, I saw brightly blooming zinnias, cosmos and sunflowers, with hummingbirds and butterflies sucking their nectar. One entire row was dedicated to herbs and brassicas and a corner of the property covered by a corn and cucurbit patch. The back of the field was dotted with fruit-bearing trees.

Alter Farms’ founders say their land provides enough to feed the crew and supply Haines’ local restaurant, Ma Mosa’s. Their theory is that the cannabis flowers bring beneficial bugs to the farm, and that having a healthy balance of many species will work to persuade any particular pest from taking over.

Even on my return trip to the farm, life is still abundant.

“Our goal is to leave the land healthier than when we arrived,” says Alter. “We are not fertilizer applicators, we are farmers, hands in our soil, and constantly working with and studying the effects of nature.”

I say my goodbyes after the tour. Back in my car, I head down the driveway and an advertisement pops on the radio for a local dispensary offering “Alter Farms Pineapple.” In a region that grows enough cannabis to feed the state and half the nation, I’m happy to hear their name stand out above the pack.

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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Breeding Tropical Genetics With the Hawaiian Seed Company

Hawaii — the name alone evokes glistening visions of paradise; emerald hills and valleys, topaz waterfalls and lagoons, diamond white beaches and shimmering obsidian stretches of volcanic coastline, all sprawled across a sapphire sea and drenched in the floral perfume of perpetual spring.

For lovers of cannabis, that gem-encrusted island cluster possesses an extra layer of allure thanks to the long-standing (and well-earned) reputation it has cultivated where cultivation is concerned. The unfettered fertility of Hawaii’s volcanic soil and the ceaseless beaming of its nearly seasonless sun produce some of the most highly prized agricultural products on Earth, including sugar cane, coffee, pineapple — and yes — cannabis.

Hawaiian bud earned a place in the pantheon of pot during the 1970s, the first golden age of modern ganja. This was long before formal branding was a part of cannabis, but “Maui Wowie” still made a big enough impact to become a global household name. To this day, not only do people still recognize and respond to that name, it’s on the short list of old-school cultivars that are still grown and enjoyed in (roughly) their original form. Bottom line: Hawaiian cannabis is the stuff of legends.

Hawaiian Seed Company co-founder and CEO, River Young, is counting on the tangible expression of that legend in the feeling and flavor of the company’s proprietary genetics to propel the fledgling company to soaring heights.

Powerline 41 is a cross of a Kauai Electric mother plant with a Thunderf*ck father.

Young is no stranger to Hawaiian cultivation. He was raised on Kauai’s North Shore and worked as the manager of a lettuce, tomato and cucumber farm there, giving him an intimate understanding of the unique advantages and challenges of island agriculture.

As far as he’s concerned, finding “the best genetics possible” is the first step in establishing a successful brand.

“We foresee that genetics will ultimately control the growth of cannabis and hemp companies,” Young said. “The genetics here in Hawaii can withstand trade winds and high humidity, so they tend to be tougher strains, meaning people in Florida and other climates with high humidity find them especially appealing.”

But those hardy genetics didn’t just appear from thin air: they’re the result of the fastidious seed hoarding of his business partner, co-founder and head breeder Sol Kahn.

From Bags to Riches

About 25 years ago, in 1994, Kahn planted the literal seeds that would eventually blossom into Hawaiian Seed Company. As is often the case in these stories, they were generally unremarkable bag seeds he just happened to find, but when they bloomed, so did his lifelong passion for cultivation.

“I started breeding in 1994  and I haven’t stopped since,” he said. “I remember exactly what that plant looked and smelled like. It was this light green and orange with popcorn nugs and a very tropical sweetness, like mango. I grew them out, I had some males and grew them all, then realized they crossed and created seeds.”

That simple discovery inspired Kahn to pursue increasingly complex breeding projects in his backyard and at hidden spots up in the mountains, using seeds which he obsessively collected — a habit that Young, a childhood friend, used to laugh at, until it formed the foundation of their company.

Sol Kahn, the head breeder at Hawaiian Seed Company.

“I thought he was completely nuts for collecting seeds all these years and it looks like he was correct — there’s definitely value in those genetics,” Young said.

What started as an eccentric hobby has grown into a massive private stock of cannabis genetics, encompassing over 60,000 seeds, including the heirloom island genetics (and accompanying tropical flavors) that serve as the brand’s signature.

It’s worth noting that, despite the brand’s island roots (and still island-bound leadership team), the official corporate headquarters of Hawaiian Seed Company is in Oregon, where the laws are already in place for this level of cannabis commerce. The company is working towards bringing their company “full circle” with operations in Hawaii, but for now, Oregon provides them not only the legal freedom to operate but a unique space to do so — a former elementary school.

“We didn’t kick any kids out. It was vacant and had moved to a new location,” Kahn said. “It turned out to be a perfect location for us and we’re ultimately hoping to turn it into a cannabis learning center.”

Hawaii’s Colorful, Unstable, Terp-Filled Edge

There’s a lot of different factors involved in growing a trusted cannabis brand, but chief among them is establishing the legitimacy and value of your signature strains. Like many contemporary cannabis cultivators, Hawaiian Seed Company utilizes the massive — and ever-growing — Phylos Galaxy to identify and validate their flagship strains.

Khan said Phylos — a company he describes as “frickin’ awesome” — offers him and other cultivators the perfect tool for elevating their brand above the noise of a crowded field and protecting their genetics from unscrupulous dudes looking for a quick come-up at the expense of someone else’s hard work.

“There’s so many bullsh*tters out there who will take your strain and change the name, and [the Phylos Galaxy] just keeps the growers honest and keeps track of strains so they don’t get lost in the wind,” he said, adding that the ability to quickly discover other strains with both similar and distant genetics helps him “map out a more visual interpretation of the genetics’ travels.”

That ability to map the ancestry of cannabis cultivars has proven invaluable when working with the ephemeral genetics endemic to Hawaiian herb. Some cultivators, at least publicly, place a high premium on genetic stability, but Kahn is not among them. He typically just lets Mother Nature do her thing when it comes to phenotype variation, a philosophy rooted in the aggressively diverse lineage of old-school Hawaiian pakalolo.

“I don’t really worry too much about stabilization. Back in the day, there was none, everything just got cross bred with each other,” he said. “In Hawaii especially, everything was breeding and getting crossed with all kinds of pollen — Thai, Afghani, everything got so mixed up — so I’m not trying to make one pheno that’s ‘perfect’ and then clone it.”

Midnight Splendor, a Kali Mist hybrid crossed with GDP and Kauai Purple, creates a beautiful fuschia flower. The flavor of this cultivar include bubble gum, butter pie crust and sharp lemon.

But when he does find a need to stabilize something or just feels like jazzing around with genetics, the year-round sunlight of the North Shore allows him to do so in less than half the time it would take a breeder on the mainland

Another thing Kahn doesn’t worry about much is potency. Most of his creations test in the high teens to the mid-20s for cannabinoid content. This is partially because he personally prefers lighter, more mellow effects, but mostly it’s the result of an intense focus on other characteristics like terpene profile and — here’s a novel idea where flower cultivation is concerned — color.

That success of that last mission, discovering vibrantly colored cultivars, is immediately apparent in the mature flowers of Akala Kush, a deep lime-green flower punctuated by dazzling bursts of pink and fuchsia pistils sprawling out like glowing antennae.

And while color is an important (and deeply undervalued) aspect of cannabis, it’s practically impossible to overstate the importance of a strain’s terpene profile when it comes to how it’s received by the public. At a time when potency is more or less a given — particularly for cannabis destined for extraction — the smell and flavor of a strain is the main source of its unique identity.

Young is confident that those searching for terps will find much to love in the distinctly Hawaiian flavor profiles of the company’s flowers.

“From the lab tests and feedback we’re getting it seems like these strains do hold some tropical flavors in terms of terpenes,” Young said. “If you’re a processor and you get a hold of some of our flowers the terps are going to have a very unique flavor, so it’s very attractive to them and it stands out for growers as well.”

Coming to the Mainland

Those living in Northern California will soon be able to see (and smell) for themselves: Hawaiian Seed Company has coordinated with Dark Heart Nursery to make some of their top strains available to consumers as clones, including Kahn’s undisputed favorite strain, Midnight Splendor, an “absolutely fantastic mix” he’s been working on for nearly a decade.

“It’s Kali Mist, an old school strain that’s been grown on Kauai forever, crossed with Kauai Purple — a deep purple indica I got from an uncle a couple years ago — crossed into Girl Scout Cookies for potency and flavor and then crossed with Grandaddy Purple for a little more color,” he said. “What we got was giant, long fuchsia spears of amazingness. It’s covered in resin and when you grind it up, it’s purple, pink, green and beautiful.”

Kahn is proud of the terpene profiles he’s harnessed and excited for people to taste them, whether that means smoking a bowl or dabbing concentrate extracted from his flowers, but he’s most enthusiastic about the whole plant — and much less so about the direction and character of the industry surrounding it.

Hawaiian Seed Company searches for terpenes that evoke tropical flavors.

He hopes his love of the whole plant will translate to the final product and help those who enjoy it embrace a more holistic view of cannabis.

“Part of why we founded Hawaiian Seed Company was to bring that retro ’70s vibe back to cannabis,” Kahn said. “There’s a lot of disrespect in the new cannabis industry… we do this because we love it, we love this amazing plant and we want to share it, but we want to respect it.”

No matter how you feel about the direction of the cannabis industry, it’s hard to find anything bad to say about beautiful cannabis cultivars with unique terpene profiles, and that’s exactly what Hawaiian Seed Company is all about — providing a mouthwatering slice of the islands.

“It’s the originality of the flavors, just having something that’s tropical and different,” Young said. “Maybe there’s a certain connection to vacation or something, but people just seem a little more relaxed when they smoke our strains.”

There’s no substitute for experiencing the North Shore in person, but breathing in a fragrant, intoxicating cloud of its tropical essence and sinking gently into a mellow, productive buzz is almost like a smokeable Hawaiian vacation — and it’s certainly cheaper than buying a plane ticket.

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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Sirius Black is Purple Perfection

Digital photo manipulation has blurred the lines between art and reality so completely that any truly remarkable image carries the weight of our collective skepticism; our minds no longer trust what our eyes can see. Such is the case with Sirius Black, a strain which boasts such a dazzlingly deep purple coloration it immediately inspires that nagging postmodern question: “Is it real?”

Thankfully, not only is the shockingly vibrant violet of Sirius Black real, it’s a natural result of some very deliberate work by the Oregon Breeders Group — not a byproduct of the cold temperatures most strains require to produce purple.

Or as OBG co-founder Wade Preble explained, it’s actually good.

The vibrant purple flower of the Sirius Black plant sits at the center of bright green leaves.

“Most purple weed isn’t very good — it’s not very good at all. And a lot of that is cold stress: you’re killing the plant, it’s unhealthy,” he said. “If you cold stress Sirius Black, I don’t know if it’ll get any purpler, but it would be crappy as well.”

Thankfully, the strain’s visually arresting aesthetics are a natural product of its unique genetics and no sacrifices to quality are required to obtain them.

“Sirius Black, when it’s grown outdoors, starts turning purple in August, when the temps are in the 90s and the 100s,” Preble said, adding that, while purple coloration was central to the breeding project, quality — not color — was the primary consideration.

“We know that purple weed is a novelty, but it’s gonna wear off if the terpene profile and potency are horrible like most cold-stressed purple plants are,” he said. “Color was secondary, but bottom line is, when you’ve got an A1 plant and it’s also beautiful, that doesn’t hurt you at all.”

A macro image of the purply Sirius Black cannabis plant.

Sirius Black as it exists today is a kind of homage to one of the original strains grown by the group, which Preble said is “long gone” by now.

“Back in the late ’70s, early ’80s, we had what we believed was probably a pure indica: a short squatty plant that got as purple as Sirius Black and was some killer weed, but had some limitations with yield,” he said. “Life got in the way and we kind of took a break, but then when everything started going crazy up here in the last six or seven years, we got back together.”

Sirius Black shares a first name with the “Dog Star” Sirius, so it’s right at home in the Phylos Bioscience “Galaxy” — a massive visual network of scientifically verified genetic information for cannabis that evokes a star map. The Phylos data for Sirius Black confirms its uniqueness: it has zero “immediate family” connections.

And while the DNA profile shows strong connections to the “Skunk” and “Berry” subgroups, Preble said only the latter is expressed meaningfully in the plant’s phenotype.

A huge clump Sirius Black nugs stuck together.

“The terpene profile is about as far away from the skunk smell as you can get… it is really berry, grape — when I cure this stuff it’s fricking amazing,” he said. “My wife, who hates the smell of skunky weed, just loves the smell. It smells like grapes, it’s really cool.”

Preble says people compliment the experience of smoking Sirius Black over and over again because the high walks the line between knocking you out and not being too weak.

A green field of cannabis plants is dotted with the purple flowers of Sirius Black.

And Sirius Black wasn’t always spelled that way. Or as Preble puts it “we didn’t spell it at all.”

“Back then there was no Instagram or anything, weed didn’t come with labels, so you didn’t write strain names down,” he said. “Strains didn’t really have names either, not like now — it was all based on where it came from or the color… we were just kind of like, ‘That’s some serious black,’ and the name stuck.”

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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Lone Cannabinoids: THCA

The psychoactive effects produced from ingesting cannabis are a result of not just THC, but of THC in synergy with hundreds of other cannabinoids present in the plant known as the “entourage effect.” The pure THCA experience can therefore leave much to be desired for the casual cannabist.

“It’s interesting, but it’s only one compound and medical marijuana is medical because of all the cannabinoids, not just one,” says Matt Archibald, President of Botanical Process Solutions, a company that supplies supercritical CO2 extraction systems complete with recipes designed to produce consistent, reproducible results.

For anyone curious about extracting THCA, answers are just an online search away. German researchers published a scholarly article in the “Journal of Chromatography” in 2011 that discusses, in detail, two procedures for isolating THCA.

“Both use flash chromatography and require nasty solvents like pentane or butane,” Archibald explains. “But anyone with a chemistry background could do it just following the directions in the paper.”

Elaborating on the process, Archibald says that the German scientists started with kief that they then dissolved in a solvent – in this case, pentane, which is related to butane but with a higher boiling point. They treated the kief with activated carbon to remove the terpenes and other compounds and placed heat-treated silica gel in a column (essentially a tube with a hole in bottom), added the purified kief in at the top, put a flask underneath, then poured pentane mixed with another chemical over it. THCA sticks to silica gel to a certain degree, he says, so compounds that don’t stick come out first. Lastly, more and more modifiers are added to extract the rest of the THCA.

“It’s not a complicated process, although flash chromatography is a very slow one. It’s just dangerous because you have to use pentane,” which is highly combustible like its butane/BHO cousin.

For those concerned about solvents in their concentrates, Archibald says the evaporation process theoretically should get rid of residual solvents, as done with pharmaceutical extractions. However in the cannabis world, few hash makers have the same refined expertise as pharmaceutical companies.

BHO is likely what extract artists are using to isolate THCA, using previously extracted butane hash oil as base material, according to Dan Polking, a lab tech at Analytical 360 in Seattle, who says he’s tested THCA concentrates at 98 percent and higher.

“I think some people start with BHO, then add another solvent to purify it further,” he says.

But Archibald believes there is a safer way to isolate THCA.

“You can do something similar with CO2 by adding modifiers and putting the material through a silica gel column. CO2 is safe. Pentane isn’t.”

Archibald, who says the supercritical extraction systems he supplies are so dialed in that “users can literally download a recipe for a certain type of extract from our website and get the same results time after time.” He explains that the CO2 process can isolate other specific cannabinoids, which could have even greater implications for the medical cannabis industry.

“After the CO2 extraction, there are separators. The separators can be adjusted to favor one cannabinoid over another,” he explains.

Because cannabinoids are so similar, the process of getting only one cannabinoid per separator is difficult, he says, but not impossible. However, such single-cannabinoid extracts probably won’t impress the chronnoisseur.

“Pure THCA doesn’t have much appeal because it doesn’t have the terpenes,” Archibald says. “There’s research that shows how important terpenes and CBD are to the whole experience,” and no one even knows how the lesser studied or unidentified cannabinoids weigh in. “Chances are, if you’re smoking your favorite strain, [your enjoyment of] it has to do with cannabinoids and terpenes.”

So, what sort of high does dabbing pure THCA produce? Archibald speculates the effects would be “similar to synthetic cannabinoids, like Spice, because you don’t have the CBD to mitigate the anxiety that THC can produce. I’m one of those guys that can’t do sativas because I get too jittery and paranoid, so I would never try pure THCA. People that are into indicas wouldn’t enjoy pure THCA at all.”

He uses a comparison others can relate to as more insight into the experience.

“Lots of people really love good beer and good wine, but very few people want to drink Everclear.”

Originally published in Cannabis Now print edition. LEARN MORE.

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On Pheno Safari with the Jungle Boys

In a world of Blue Dreams and mystery bag-seed Cookie phenos, one might think the art of massive 1,000 seed propagation efforts in search of all-star genetics was dead — but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Now, as preparations are made for the transition to the legal market, cultivators are putting more effort than ever into their brand’s stamps on the family jewels. To find out how the masters unearth their gems, we reached out to some of SoCal’s most respected cultivators and bean poppers: the Jungle Boys.

Since 2005, the Jungle Boys — long associated with TLC, one of Los Angeles’s premier collectives — have provided Kush (that could be mistaken for gasoline by the blind) to a decidedly OG town.

Like many of their peers who’ve been in it for the long haul, they had to fight off the DOJ’s infamous “landlord letters,” but they’ve checked every compliance and permit box over the years, positioning themselves to be one of the top producers of boutique cannabis in a state filled with sure to be short-lived, dollar store outfits.

Jungle Cake

The behind the scenes work to get their hottest new strains to the shelf can take years, after preserving mother plants and flowering hundreds to find those elite cuts.

We spoke with Ivan of the Jungle Boys to get the whole story.

“A normal pheno hunt — depending on the variety and traits we’re looking for — we’ll get our hands on anywhere from 250 to 1,000 seeds, then pop all of them, ” Ivan said.

To illustrate the stringent standards used to select first-round winners, he pointed to a recent Jungle Boys effort to find a keeper phenotype of Mimosa, a cross of Clementine and Purple Punch — one of the best purples in SoCal: out of 200 seeds, they only found 12 keepers.

“From there we’ll narrow it down to six then four,” he said. “We don’t keep anything that’s the same or test higher in terpenes than the rest of them — THC numbers, it has to have it all.”

A canopy of Purple Punch.

The new genetic material they’re working with typically need three runs to really express its full phenotype.

“Normally on the first run, something we might not even have been looking for just needs to be dialed in and put in its proper environment,” he said. “Then we really start to see the ones we’re going to keep.”

This dedication has produced some of the most popular LA cuts in recent memory. Names like Orange Cookies and the aforementioned Purple Punch are prime examples of the best non-OG strains in LA, according to the masses.

The Jungle Boys are also famous for their representations of Northern California-bred strains like Gelato and Cookies. With such a high degree of production quality already available in-house, we asked Ivan what it takes for other genetics to get in the mix.

“We’ve been getting free cuts from so many people for years, and we’d just never talk about them again after they were grown out,” he said. “Not because they were bad or the people, they just didn’t have it all.”

They stick to the three-run policy when investigating genetics propagated out of house as well. In those second and third runs, they’re able to decide if a cut checks all their boxes and “has it all.”

Sundae Driver #9

The Jungle Boys mother plants are numbered and tracked corresponding to their previous cycles. If they notice any shifts in vigor or rooting speed, they can narrow that down quickly and cut the fading genetics from the gene pool.

“The stuff that we pheno hunted, that we found, we know for sure what it is — we take vigorous notes on everything,” Ivan said.

One of the biggest propagation hits for the Jungle Boys was Sundae Driver. Ivan said they had a lot more winners in that run than usual.

“With most strains, 99 percent of people would think it’s the nicest one out there or best plants they’ve ever grown,” he said. “We just really narrowed it down and found the true elite. We have so many patients; even if we think it’s desirable, is it going to do it for the patients?”

Strawberry Shortcake

The patients at TLC play a big role in Jungle Boys folklore, inadvertently selecting many of the famed cuts.

“We’ll normally never even hype up a pheno number and just say these strains are amazing,” Ivan said, adding that with the recent Mimosa run, the most rave reviews circled around the #14 and #26. “It’s unbelievable citrus and oranges with a little bit of that purple punch on the backside — it’s really nice.”

Patients also played a huge role in the now Infamous Wedding Cake OG.

Many new exciting lines are in the work’s currently including Banana Punch, Grape Wedding Cake, Wedding Crasher and Orange Cookies x Grape Pie.

“We’ve got a bunch of really cool stuff,” Ivan said. “We’re always popping seeds.”

Do-Si-Dos

Ivan stressed the labor-intensive and time consuming nature of a Jungle Boys pheno hunt.

“A single pheno project will take us anywhere from a year to two years,” he said. “All the stuff we’re releasing next — the Jungle Cakes, Grape Wedding Cakes and The White Weddings —  we’ve been working on that. We have those going in all of our rooms, but we keep them hush hush until we can really dial them in.”

Once they’re ready for a full release, they’ll start showing samples off to patients, drawing from all the best variations that made the cut available.

“A lot of people don’t understand. They’re like ‘Why don’t you have enough for everybody?’” Ivan said. “They don’t understand the man hours, the rooms and the lights we set aside for all these seeds is just tremendous. At any given time we have a couple hundred lights dedicated to seeds.”

Sundae Driver #12

Out of all the Jungle Boys’ pheno hunt trophies —  those from recent years and those grown over the past 13 — Ivan puts the Jungle Cakes (WiFi #43 crossed with Wedding Cake) at the top of his list.

“I would probably say the Jungle Cakes is the best thing we’ve found,” he said, adding that it was a full circle cross, utilizing his very first pheno.

“[WiFi #43 was my first seed pop I did with OG Rascal — I popped 1,000 seeds. It’s in a lot of gardens now and almost every breeder has worked with it,” he said. “Eight years ago we found the WiFi #43 and now it makes one of our best crosses today.”

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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The Secret World of Trichomes

They’re purple, magenta, creamy white and yellow, opaque and translucent. They come in a surprising array of colors, even though the naked eye might only see sparkly white. Yes, we’re talking about trichomes, the part of the pot plant where the cannabinoids and terpenes reside, which is responsible for making frosty nugs sparkle like dank little diamonds. Seeing them up close is like peering into an alien world you never knew existed. But this is not some radical DMT trip. This is photographer Shwale’s trichome collection and it is astounding.

Macro photography has captured close-ups of cannabis trichomes for decades. But the images created by professional pot photographer Kale Worden – better known as Shwale – are stunning. He’s captured two-headed trichomes before even three-headed ones. He’s shot some that tower and then lean forward under the weight of their own bulbous heads. And he manages to capture their sparkling essence in a way that deserves high praise.

A foxtail of Silver Surfer reveals a sea of trichomes, the resinous bulbs on cannabis flowers that contain cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.

One double-headed trichome that shares the body of a purple stalk looks like some underwater alien life form you’d see on “Blue Planet,” with conjoined bulbs for eyes that are not too dissimilar from the Cookie Monster — but actually on Cookies. From pink and purple stalks with creamy heads (or glands) to bright magenta trichomes protruding from green stalks and even multiple colors on a single trichome, Shwale’s photography produces some of the most fascinating images we’ve seen.

Some of the most interesting photos in his repertoire include a creamy white trichome with burgundy racing stripes down either side that Shwale found on a Black Cherry Soda plant. One particularly eerie and mysterious shot features what appears to be a little alien trichome family, with two parents looking down lovingly on two conjoined twin trichomes. “I’ve seen a few weird things,” he says. “Once I thought I could see a skull in a gland… but that was more like cloud-gazing.”

Trichome Head Macro Photography Marijuana Cannabis Now Shwale

Over 300 photographs of a trichome on a Sunset Strip strain are stacked together to produce one image.

But the colors are far more concrete. According to Shwale, “Most trichomes start clear, then the glands turn ‘milky’ (gray), afterwards amber, [and] finally into dark red glands as time progresses. Purples, magentas and reds are actually quite common in the trichome stalks and glands of similar colored flowers. It’s actually odd if a purple plant doesn’t have a few purple trichomes.”

Inspired by Jason King’s “The Cannabible,” and having a lifelong interest in photography thanks to his professional photographer father, Shwale developed a love for cannabis and film early on.

“I would actually sneak away with my dad’s expensive camera to similarly document the various ‘dank kind’ I was smoking in high school,” he says.

Macro Photography Marijuana Bud Cannabis Now Shwale

Kruple Fantasy #1 from Farmhouse Studio.

Getting shots that are so up close and personal is no easy feat, and can take several days and many long hours to achieve. For just one shot, Shwale, who mostly sources his material in-house from Denver’s Farmhouse Studio garden, must sometimes shoot 200-300 photos over several days, then layer (or “stack”) them to get the clear and up-close end result.

As Shwale explains it, “The concept of photo stacking stems from macro photography’s short depth of focus. Simply put, macro photos allow for only a small portion of the photo to be in focus. To work around that, we move the camera’s position very slightly several times. Each time we take a photo it shows a new section of the subject in focus.”

Eternal Knot Cannabis Oil Photography Macro Shoot Cannabis Now Shwale

Shwale titled this photograph “The Eternal Knot” as a reminder that everything is connected.

And it’s just as incredibly tedious as it sounds. “Sometimes I’ll retake a shot over several days to get it right. Then we have hundreds of photos of one subject that need to be digitally stitched together, ” a process that can take anywhere from an hour up to several days. Editing the final photo adds another hour at minimum.

“Yes,” Shwale confesses. “All of that for just one image of cannabis.

But Shwale doesn’t just shoot cannabis trichomes. He’s also shot stunning trichome images from other plants, including a fuchsia trichome on a long-stem rose and striking opaque trichs with magenta heads on a hazelnut bush.

Glue Hash Rosin Cannabis Photography Cannabis Now

Hash rosin, made from the strain Glue, glistens in the studio light.

Currently, Shwale uses a Canon 6D body, “usually with the MP-E 65mm lens for extreme macros; sometimes a 100mm macro for wider cola shots.” As for flashes, he says, “The more flashes, the better.” He uses a 150-watt studio strobe and a macro twin flash. “A StackShot automated focusing rail is essential for large stacks,” he says. Finally, he employs a Manfrotto tripod for stability and says “concrete floors help with vibrations.

For the hours and hours he pours into creating just one photograph, what exactly makes it all worth it?

“A glimpse into the unseen,” Shwale says. “Today’s macro photography gives us a brand new view of the tiny world around us and the technology keeps getting better.

And so does our understanding of the cannabis plant, enhanced as it is by peering into the secret and alien world of trichomes.

Trichomes Marijuana Macro Photography Shwale Cannabis Now

Each trichome glistens in its own unique manner.

TELL US, do you know what trichomes are?

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How Honeydew Farms Grew Into the Legalized Cannabis Market

California’s Lost Coast is often described as wild and unruly – a scene of jagged mountains, fluffy firs and hillsides that give way to the agitated tides of the Pacific. The coastline that spans Humboldt and Mendocino counties is without any major highways thanks to the engineering challenges of building among the craggy landscape.

In the foothills of the Lost Coast’s King Range lies Honeydew Farms – a cannabis farm that is anything but lost and unruly. Shots of the ranch reveal neat rows of marijuana plants – weighed down with fat colas ripe for harvest. Unlike many growers who are struggling to figure out California’s new marijuana regulations, Honeydew has its licensing in order. After cultivating cannabis for some 25 years under the state’s caregiver model, Honeydew owners Alex and Miranda Moore were the first to submit an application for a Humboldt County cultivation license. Now, they’re turning their operation into a for-profit medical cannabis company.

Strain: SFV OG

Much has been made about the struggles of California cannabis growers to ensure compliance in the brave new world of regulated medical and recreational marijuana. The Moores’ journey to becoming one of the first county-licensed farms was an arduous but serendipitous one.

For the past decade, Honeydew has been in the process of subdividing and re-zoning their property to accommodate a partnership on one of the ranch’s parcels of land. Through that ordeal, Honeydew had to make sure its roads and buildings were up to code, securing permits for its greenhouse and barn structures. “We had to be reviewed by all these same agencies that are now reviewing cannabis,” said Alex Moore.

So when California proposed new medical cannabis regulations, the Moores found themselves perfectly poised to apply for a license. “It was a blessing in disguise that we went through that process,” he said. Many other cannabis grows in the area lacked permitted buildings.

Still, it wasn’t easy. The Moores got involved with Humboldt County’s process in crafting its local cannabis ordinance, hiring a land-use law firm and attending county meetings. Humboldt’s economy had been suffering due to the decline in the logging and fishing industries. “We helped to convince county officials that [they’re] sitting on a massive industry that’s already here,” said Moore.

Honeydew Farms Humboldt Cannabis Now

Honeydew Farms has secured a cultivation license in Humboldt County.

Humboldt’s Planning Commission eventually approved Honeydew’s application in a 4 to 1 vote. With its paperwork in order, Honeydew could turn its attention to its plants.

“Sustainably farming cannabis is a priority for us,” said Moore. “We just have a deep connection to our ranch, to the land, to the environment. This property is hopefully going to be in our family for generations.”

Honeydew eschews harmful chemicals so it can re-use its soils year after year. Their living soils are regularly tested for deficiencies and supplemented with organic amendments that are locally mixed. “We have [soils] here on the ranch we’ve been using for 20 years,” said Moore. “[It’s] also quite a benefit to us financially because we don’t have to replace our soil every year.”

While the farm has its paperwork in order, it’s still dealing with the anxieties that come with being one of the first license holders in the historic cannabis-growing region.

“We got a lot of hate from locals that we know in the cannabis industry,” said Moore. “That was kind of shocking to us.”

Honeydew Farms Humboldt Cannabis Now

Honeydew Farms owners Alex and Miranda Moore.

Even more pressing is the concern over volatility in the marijuana market. Farmers pay high costs to become compliant with little knowledge of what prices their crops will command. “That creates anxiety,” he said. “Then, you’re slapping on all these different taxes and you still have a black market that a lot of people are operating in.”

There’s also the oversaturation of the cannabis industry. Estimates put California’s cannabis production at anywhere between six and 12 times its demand. Then add newcomers to the mix: “All these new people with big Wall Street backing are popping up and walking into million-dollar facilities in the Central Valley,” said Moore.

Still, joining the regulated market affords its benefits. “I think there’s definitely going to be a lot more conscious consumers,” said Moore. Those customers will be looking out for lab tests and seeking organic producers. “More people are going to be trying cannabis… and are going to care about what they put into their bodies,” he said.

Honeydew Farms Humboldt Cannabis Now

Honeydew also keeps Scottish Highland cattle. These two are named Indica and Sativa.

Going legit also gives growers who have operated under the radar a chance to create a brand. “Trying to figure out marketing and all these different things that aren’t related to farming has created a bit of anxiety for us,” he said. “But we feel blessed and grateful to opportunity to build a brand.”

As for what the future will hold for Honeydew, Moore says they hope to expand to the recreational market. “As a business person with bills to pay, the recreational market is a lot bigger than the medical market.”

That ambition dovetails with the farmer’s view of the plant too: “Personally, I’ve always thought that you shouldn’t have to wait to use cannabis until you’re really sick.”

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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