The Emerald Cup Awards Rocks Hollywood with Unforgettable Genetics and Guests

Last Saturday, the 18th Annual Emerald Cup Awards was held at The Montalbán Theatre near Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood in Los Angeles, California—and it was truly a spectacle to behold.

As people shuffled in, creating a continuous stream of advocates, patients, breeders, and growers, the venue filled quickly. Some attendees made their way to the dab bar and drink bar at the Mezzanine level, and others made their way up to the rooftop, which is where the real magic began.

I walked through a vine-covered corridor into the rooftop party area where vendors such as LitHouse and Fig Farms handed out generous gift bags with eighths and double pre-rolls. A sprawling 360-degree view of downtown Hollywood provided the backdrop. Musical performances by Andreas One, Jasmine Solana, and Lafa.

Courtesy of Danny Lee

As for the ceremony itself, there was a whopping number of categories—over 50—and it was hosted by a number of special guests including Ngaio Bealum, Whitney Beattie, and the clear fan favorite hosts, Swami Chaitanya and Nikkie Lastreto of Swami Select, who we also recently profiled in print.

We were impressed by the powerful sense of community. On one hand, the ceremony felt like the Academy Awards, as Rolling Stone puts it, but on the other hand, there was a strong craft farmer and hippie vibe undercurrent. For instance, when the hosts asked a question, the crowd answers back loud and clear.

“It’s our culture, it’s, it’s our community … they feel like there’s an ownership here because of my deep roots and connection to the community,” Tim Blake told High Times. “And they just feel the love. We don’t do it for the money, we do it to really do something special. You know, at the Harvest Ball last year, we gave away over 50 free booths. And people just know who we are and where we’re coming from.

“We’re not a big crew, our local people, and we love our, our community. And so it’s just a mutual love affair,” Blake added. And people feel it.” Individual, personal use categories were included, so that people without expensive licensing could participate.

Tim Blake, Courtesy of Danny Lee

The Emerald Cup and Blake are both mostly associated with the Emerald Triangle encompassing Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity Counties, but this year the event was moved to Los Angeles to represent a strategic move.

“In 2017, legalization came in, I knew then that for our contestants and our vendors and sponsors that the future was LA—the largest cannabis market in the world, the largest media market in the world,” Blake said. “This is where they need it, we’re gonna do their Academy Awards in the cannabis industry.”

The judges had to go from 700 entries, all top-shelf, and narrow them down to just 182 winners. In some categories this year, the process involved blind or doubleblind methods in order to prevent bias for any one farm or company.

The trophies were hand-blown by glass artist Ryan Fitt in collaboration with Puffco. The event was overseen by executive producer Taylor Blake, Tim’s daughter, who is increasingly taking in the reins of the enterprise.

It took 150 expert judges to find the winners including Alec Dixon of SC Labs, Bill and Jeff Levers, Eric Brandstand, Guy Rocourt, Jimi Devine, Maya Elisabeth, The Dank Duchess, Abdulah Saedd, and too many others to list. The crew of judges mobilized last February, and according to Swami Chaitanya, were confined to a room until they could narrow down the contestants.

Dennis Hunter from Farmer and the Felon had to return to the stage many times, as the team won award after award. I was able to snag some Farmer and the Felon seeds. LitHouse, Rebel Grown, and Fig Farms also took home several awards that night. The crowd went wild when Huckleberry Hill Farms won an award.

Since 2004, the Emerald Cup has served as “a grassroots celebration of the cannabis plant and harvest, and as an unbiased, free, and fair competition,” but Blake and the leadership of the event emphasize that it is really about people—farmers, judges, entertainers, and attendees.

Courtesy of Danny Lee

The Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award

Woody Harrelson was the guest of honor, receiving the coveted Willie Nelson Lifetime achievement award. Past winners include Winona LaDuke, Tommy Chong, Valerie Corral, and Willie Nelson himself. Harrelson was an advocate going back decades, with a proven track record of serious activism.

“So we got the information to Woody, and he checked us out,” Blake said. “And, you know, he almost thought about not taking the award this year, because Green Street lost their permit. And then The Woods couldn’t get their permit to open. We didn’t have a venue. And so what was he going to do? And in the course of one week, we found this place, and he got a permit to open his place. And he called me up and we had a long talk. And he said, you know, heck, I’m gonna come out there and join you guys. And I’ll tell you what, I was tickled pink, I told him, I said, You know what, you have no idea what this means to us. And now, seeing The Woods open up.”

Courtesy of Danny Lee

Harrelson was chosen not because of his celebrity star power, but based on his activism in the cannabis space. That dates back to Woody’s symbolic protest by illegally planting a hemp seed in Kentucky in 1996 and his vocal activism in favor of environmental sustainability, veganism, and regenerative agricultural practices.

It’s the same environmentally healthy practices that are already a part of the Emerald Cup.

“For the first time ever, we had more indoor than the sungrown entries, which is, you know, pretty big change,” Blake said. “The beverages and the edibles are just blowing up. The enhanced beverages are unbelievable and the pre-rolls had gone from like afterthought D grade trim to where it’s like just stunning representations. We did a classification system separating the terpenes into classification systems and gas and desserts and sweets and whatnot, so that we could really do an educational process not only for our judges, but for our community, and get people really to break out of that mold and looking for the highest THC and start looking for the right cannabinoid profile fits best for them.”

Courtesy of Danny Lee

Wooks, Wizards, and Warlocks

Some guests were dressed up as wizards, and another was dressed in a zoot suit period piece. Others looked as though the hippie lifestyle never faded at all since the ‘60s. Pebbles Trippet was a center of attention, being a longtime advocate, and she received devotionals from both Blake and Harrelson.

“People down here are pretty cool,” Blake said. “And they get to get dressed up for a show like this. And now people are just, it’s exciting for a lot of these hill people to have a reason to come out, come down here and get dressed up. And they’re not they’re not pitching at all. They’re excited. And they’re coming up and telling me how wonderful it is.”

I returned to the rooftop where the most fun was to be found. There, I bumped into Shavo Odadjian of System of a Down who was there to promote his flower from 22Red. I found a shrine with beautiful Hindu representations.

Throwing events such as this isn’t all fun and games when the rules become involved, but Blake is hopeful.

“This year, the DCC [Department of Cannabis Control] came in heavy at the Harvest Ball,” Blake said. “They were telling small farmers that they couldn’t display things; they were going after small farmers and people … in their booth smoking, you know, it’s like that personal stuff. So we had to continue that educational process. But it’s so critical for farmers and brands to have direct access to consumers … We need to open that up. And so it’s educating the DCC so that we set the bar and show them how to do it so that these farmers markets and all kinds of events, not just ours, can happen all over the state because it’s so critical for the consumers and for the farmers.”

Courtesy of Danny Lee

Coverage of the 18th Annual Emerald Cup Awards at the Montalbán Theatre will be provided by ALTRD.TV. You can watch all taped educational fireside chats, exclusive interviews, and the ceremony. A full list of winners, provided by the Emerald Cup, is below:


Sungrown Flower Category Winners
1st Place Farmer and the Felon – Lemon Sponge Cake
2nd Place Rebel Grown – Double OG Chem
3rd Place Farmer and the Felon x Cookie Fam Genetics – Georgia Pie
4th Place Farmer and the Felon – Double OG Chem
5th Place Full Moon Farms – Black Water OG
6th Place Canna Country Farms – #26
7th Place Rebel Grown – Natty Bumpoo
8th Place Farmer and the Felon – 92 OG
9th Place Huckleberry Hill Farms – Mom’s Weed
10th Place Esensia – Lime Juice

Sungrown – BREEDER’S CUP Category Winner
1st Place Rebel Grown – Double OG Chem

Mixed Light Flower Category Winners
1st Place LitHouse – Modified Grapes
2nd Place LitHouse – Jealousy
3rd Place LitHouse – Lemon Lava
4th Place Safier Family Farms x Peak Humboldt x Mattole Uplift Cooperative – Angel Food Cake
5th Place Healing Herb Farms – Lemon Head OG x Zkittlez
6th Place Monterey Kush Co – Matchalato
7th Place LitHouse – Paragon
8th Place Bono-Ape – Ice Cream Cake
9th Place Monterey Kush Co – Citra-Lato
10th Place Booney Acres – Strawberry Jelly Flower

Mixed Light – BREEDER’S CUP Category Winner
1st Place Healing Herb Farms – Lemon Head OG x Zkittlez

Indoor Flower Category Winners
1st Place Fig Farms – Animal Face
2nd Place Panacea – Pablo’s Revenge
3rd Place Fig Farms – Blue Face
4th Place NUG – Chocolatina
5th Place Fig Farms – Holy Moly!
6th Place Sovereign – Lemon Vuitton
7th Place STIIIZY – Blue Burst
8th Place Cure Company – Marathon OG
9th Place Source Cannabis – Quest
10th Place Atrium Cultivation – Juice Z

Indoor Flower BREEDER’S CUP Category Winner
1st Place Fig Farms – Holy Moly!

Sungrown Greenhouse Flower
1st Place Local Cannabis Co – Sherbhead
2nd Place Glass House Farms – Glass House Farms Waiting Game
3rd Place Local Cannabis Co – Ice Cream Cake
4th Place Local Cannabis Co – Orange 43
5th Place Harborside Farms – The Mac
6th Place Harborside Farms x Bloom Farms – SFV OG
7th Place Humboldt Redwood Healing x The Humboldt Brand – Sour G
8th Place Country Club Cannabis – EVB Rainbow Frootz
9th Place Ridgeline Farms – Ridgeline Runtz
10th Place Harborside Farms – Motorhead

Personal Use Flower
1st Place Parker PZ Moselle – Ohrangatang Titties
2nd Place Colin Teurfs x Dan Pomerantz – Double OG Chem 4
3rd Place Matt Jones – Cheese
4th Place Brandy Schneider – AM Lime
5th Place Mary Polson – Pink Champagne

3rd Party Certified Sungrown Flower
1st Place Emerald Spirit Botanicals – Farm Cut – Pink Boost Goddess

3rd Party Certified Mixed Light Flower Category Winners
1st Place Old Briceland Cannabis Company – Epiphany
2nd Place Old Briceland Cannabis Company – Area 41
3rd Place Old Briceland Cannabis Company – White Gummies #1

Best in Show Category Winner
1st Place Farmer and the Felon – Lemon Sponge Cake


Pre-Roll – Infused Solventless Extract Category Winners
1st Place Sovereign – Geode Joint – Modified Lemons
2nd Place El Toro Verde – El Toro Verde Cannagar
3rd Place Vital Grown x Sticky Fields x Compassionate Heart x Massive Creations x Feeling Frosty – Mendo Massive

Pre-Roll – Infused Solvent Extract
1st Place Paletas – Paletas Mother’s Milk Infused Blunt
2nd Place Sugar Daddy – Sugar Daddy Indica 2.5G Infused Blunt
3rd Place Weedwoodz – Weedwoodz XOXO

Pre-Roll – Non Infused Category Winners
1st Place Lost Paradise Organics – Gelonade 6pk Flower Pre-Roll
2nd Place Atrium Cultivation – Juice Z Pre-Roll
3rd Place Country – 1:1 Good Neighbor Pre-Roll 6pk


Ice Water Hash Category Winners
1st Place Heritage Hash Co – Whitethorn Rose Live Bubble Hash
2nd Place el Krem – Papaya Bomb Ice Water Hash
3rd Place Papa’s Select – Amarelo #9 90u Ice Water Hash
4th Place Feeling Frosty – Banana Cream Cake x Jealousy 120u Ice Water Hash
5th Place Kalya x Dancing Dog Ranch – Double Rainbow

Rosin Category Winners
1st Place Rosin Tech Labs x Luma Farms – Papaya
2nd Place Heritage Hash Co – Whitethorn Rose Live Rosin
3rd Place Kalya x LUMA Farms – Lemon Limez
4th Place FIELD – FIELD Papaya Cold Cured Live Rosin
5th Place Rosin Tech Labs – Garlic Cookies
6th Place Rosin Tech Labs – Garlic Juice #3 Cold Cure
7th Place el Krem – Strawberry Runtz – Rosin
8th Place Moon Valley Hash Co – Strawberry Banana Cold Cure Live Rosin
9th Place Doc Green’s – White Buffalo Cold Cured Live Rosin
10th Place Have Hash – Zkittlez Cold Cure Live Rosin (Headstash)

Personal Use Solventless Category Winners
1st Place Alice Reis x Flynn Abeln – Wooksauce Winery Screaming Mimis
2nd Place Brett Byrd – Modified Grapes Full spec 45-159 creme brulee consistency w/THC-A layer
3rd Place Brett Byrd – Gush Mints Full Spec 45-159
4th Place Brett Byrd – Modified Grapes Full Spec 45-159
5th Place Brett Byrd – Apple Fritters Full Spec 45-159


C02 Cartridge Category Winners
1st Place Haku – Haku CO2 Live Resin
2nd Place Featured Farms x Burzt Farms – Burzt by Featured Farms
3rd Place Wildseed Co x Cannabis Refined – Cherry Wife CO2 Cartridge

Distillate Cartridge Category Winners
1st Place LEGION – Monarch – Strawberry Banana – Cannabis Derived Terpenes
2nd Place GoldDrop x Fig Farms – Kush Mint Cookies Nug Run Vape Cartridge
3rd Place Beezle Brands – Orange Blossom Buzz Cartridge

Live Resin Cartridge Category Winners
1st Place URSA Extracts – Liquid Diamond Sauce Humboldt Jack
2nd Place Arcata Fire x Humboldt Seed Co – Raspberry Live Resin Sauce Cart
3rd Place Lemon Tree x Holy Water x Orchard Beach Farms – Kiwi tree Single Source Live Resin Cartridge
4th Place ColdFire Extracts x Turtle Pie Co – Prickly Pear Juice by ColdFire Extracts
5th Place Friendly Farms – Friendly Farms Liquid Live Resin Apple Fritter
6th Place The Bohemian Chemist – The Bohemian Chemist Cart Blanche .5g Hotsy-Totsy Live Resin Cartridge
7th Place Halara – GMO Live Diamond Sauce
8th Place Friendly Farms – Liquid Live Resin Flight #23
9th Place ColdFire Extracts – UpDog Juice by ColdFire Extracts
10th Place Oakland Extracts – Papaya Pucker

Solventless Cartridge Category Winners
1st Place Doc Green’s – Runtz Live Rosin Vape Cartridge
2nd Place Jetty Extracts – Fatso Solventless Vape
3rd Place Arcata Fire x Highwater Farms – Key Lime Pie Solventless


Hydro-Carbon Solid Category Winners
1st Place Beezle Brands x Luma Farms – Key Lime Paya Live Resin Budder
2nd Place Beezle Brands x Earthen Farms – Gary Payton Live resin Budder
3rd Place URSA Extracts – -Live Badder Modified Grapes
4th Place Cookies x ArcataX – Day Day
5th Place PaperPlanes Extracts x Land Hammer Farms – Donnie Burger #5 Live Resin Batter

Hydro-Carbon Liquid Category Winners
1st Place Cosmic x Peak x Feeling Frosty – White Runtz
2nd Place FIELD x Wizard Trees x Doja – FIELD x Wizard Trees x Doja RS-11 Live Resin
3rd Place Cosmic x Peak x Feeling Frosty – Orange Daiquiri
4th Place Terphogz – Live Resin Sauce Melon Brainz
5th Place Orchard Beach Farms x Holy Water – Kiwi Tree


Therapeutic Topical Category Winners
1st Place Care By Design – CBD Joint & Muscle Cream
2nd Place Kush Queen – Kush Queen Transdermal THC Water Based Personal Lubricant
3rd Place OM x Feeling Frosty – Sweet Dreams CBN Rosin Bath Bomb

Cosmetic Topical Category Winners
1st Place Proof – Face Serum
2nd Place OM x Feeling Frosty – Himalayan Kush Rosin Bath Bomb

Personal Use Topical Category Winner
1st Place Erica A – Deep Muscle Rub – Liniment Lotion


Tincture Category Winners
1st Place Care By Design – Refresh Drops 1:1 MAX
2nd Place Santa Cruz Mountain Tops – La Luna
3rd Place Lempire Farmaseed – LEM OG 1000mg Rosin Tincture


Edibles – Beverage Category Winners
1st Place HiFi Sessions x Lagunitas x Absolute Xtracts – HiFi Hoppy Chill
2nd Place Pure Beauty – Little Strong Drink
3rd Place K-Zen Beverages – Mad Lilly Passion Fruit Mango Spritzer

Edibles – Beverage Enhancer Category Winner
1st Place S*Shots – Berry Blast

Edibles – Gummies Category Winners
1st Place Kalya x Elephante – Papaya Rosin Gummies
2nd Place Space Gem – Sweet Sleepy Fig
3rd Place Queen Mary – Enchanted

Edibles – Sweet Category Winners
1st Place Cosmic Edibles x Kalya – Solventless Rosin Plant-Based Chocolate Chip Sprinkles Cookie Dough
2nd Place Oasis – Peanut Butter Cup Minis
3rd Place Mammamia – Capri Lemon Cake Bites

Edibles – Savory Category Winners
1st Place Potli x SF Roots – Shrimp Chips
2nd Place TSUMo Snacks – TSUMo Snacks Classic Cheese Crunchers


Alternative Cannabinoid Flower Category Winners
1st Place Pure Beauty – Terry T & Gelato 33
2nd Place Glass House Farms – Jelly Fish
3rd Place Glass House Farms – Tangelo Flow

Alternative Cannabinoid Flower Breeder’s Cup Category Winner
1st Place Pure Beauty – Terry T & Gelato 33

Alternative Cannabinoid Hemp Flower Category Winners
1st Place Flowgardens – Orange Glaze #32 
2nd Place Flowgardens – Grapefruit

Alternative Cannabinoid Edible Category Winners
1st Place Papa & Barkley – Sleep Releaf
2nd Place Granny B Goods 1:1 Canamels
3rd Place Hi Burst Raspberry Lemonade Fruit Chews

Alternative Cannabinoid Beverage Category Winner
1st Place KHEMIA – Chakra Chai

Alternative Cannabinoid Topical Category Winner
1st Place Carter’s Aroma Therapy Designs – Rasta Roll-On

Alternative Cannabinoid Tincture Category Winners
1st Place Sunrise Mountain Farms – PACIFIC – Full Spectrum CBD Rich Tincture
2nd Place PROOF – CBN Tincture
3rd Place Fiddler’s Green – Kindred Spirit – Raw Tincture

Alternative Cannabinoid Cartridge Category Winners
1st Place Chemistry – Serpentine
2nd place Kurvana –  CBD All-In-One – Banana Smoothie 5:1:5

Hemp-Derived Ingestible Category Winners
1st Place Green Truth – Trifecta Immune (CBDA-CBGA-CBDVA)
2nd Place Kurvana CBD Dream 2:1:3

Hemp-Derived Topical Category Winners
1st Place WeedSport – WeedSport CBD Muscle Stick
2nd Place Pure Dharma – Glow CBD Activated Oil Serum

Most Innovative Product – Consumable Category Winner
1st Place Holy Water x Honey Suckle Lotus  – Jelly Ranchers. Unholy Rosin/Resin Split Jar

Most Innovative Product – Industry Asset Category Winner
1st Place Huckleberry Hill Farms – Sow Your Own Magic

Breeders Hall Of Fame Category Winner
1st Place Greg McAllister

Visionary Award for Glass Artistry Category Winner
1st Place Scott Deppe – Mothership Glass

Regenerative Farm Award Category Winner
1st Place Emerald Spirit Botanicals – Farm Cut

Best Photo Contest Winner – Amateur Category Winner
1st Place Claudia Price – Pancake Stomper No. 5

Best Photo Contest Winner – Professional Category Winner
1st Place Benjamin Neff – The Heart

Best Dispensary – Northern California Category Winner
1st Place Mercy Wellness – Redwood Dr – Cotati

Best Dispensary – Central California Category Winner
1st Place Big Sur Canna + Botanicals – Carmel Rancho Ln – Carmel

Best Dispensary – Southern California Category Winner
1st Place Cornerstone Wellness – Colorado Blvd – Los Angeles

Eco-Conscious Packaging – Category Winner
1st Place Sol Spirit Farms

Environmentally Conscious Indoor – Category Winner
1st Place Moon Valley Cannabis

The post The Emerald Cup Awards Rocks Hollywood with Unforgettable Genetics and Guests appeared first on High Times.

Nipsey Hussle’s TMC Hosts Documentary Screening for ‘The Marathon (Cultivation)’

As the brand expands and “The Marathon Continues,” Hussle’s team announced an upcoming documentary. High Times was invited to an advanced screening on the rooftop of their new store on Melrose.

The aptly-named documentary, The Marathon (Cultivation), explores the life of Nipsey Hussle, the entrepreneur. We get a deeper dive into how Nipsey and his older brother Blacc Sam built a million-dollar cannabis business from the ground up, and the challenges they faced during a time when selling weed was not as popular as it is now.

Guests trickled into an empty white building at a prime location near Melrose and La Brea. After folks took photos on the red carpet, they were led up the stairs to an intimate rooftop with white chairs lined up in front of a screen. 

In true entrepreneurial fashion, The Marathon Clothing set up shop in a small store displaying the latest drops and iconic Crenshaw tee shirts. His platinum records hung behind the register and Puma shoes were perfectly lined up on shelves around the room.

Courtesy of Mark Escalante

Delicious hors d’oeuvres were served throughout the night and there were even two beautiful women lounging in a hot tub Jacuzzi to set the vibe. 

As people mingled, Nipsey’s presence was strongly missed. His dad greeted friends, Sam said hi to familiar faces, and All Money In rappers like J Stone came to support the screening. Less than 100 people gathered for an exclusive look into this never before seen footage.

Puffs of smoke filled the air and the lights went down to signal people to take their seats. Sam then took the microphone and shared a few words about what the film would entail. “We’ve been in the marijuana business for a minute, illegally,” Sam said, “We always had our eyes on a legit license and we wanted to put together something that explains the journey.”

Courtesy of Mark Escalante

From the beginning, Hussle was known for having the best of the best. To this day, Marathon OG maintains a consistent reputation among stoners craving an old-school LA flavor. Recognized by High Times as one of The Cure Company’s best strains, it has become a favorite among long-time smokers that enjoy a heavy-hitting Indica.

The film starts where Nipsey Hussle’s journey initially began, on the corner of Crenshaw and Slauson. Images of him smoking at this memorialized intersection flash on the screen as the lyrics from his music narrate the clips. This was the block where he jump-started his career, selling shirts, CDs, and according to many, the best weed in town. Cameos from customers like Snoop Dogg, give context to how potent this stuff was.

Clips of Nipsey smoking and talking about their dream to open a legal weed shop feel surreal as the audience sits atop this beautiful roof in Hollywood. A stark contrast to the life they once knew in South Central and a bittersweet moment, knowing that Nipsey cannot be there to relish in the fruits of his labor.

We get an inside look into the first dispensary they opened, located down the street from The Marathon Store. This is where they first pushed Marathon OG, a strain Nipsey specifically hand-picked because it was a “pure OG.”

The highlight of the film was Nipsey giving a walk-through of the Marathon OG grow room. “This is all Marathon OG,” Hussle says, as he opens the door to a brightly lit room, “there is nothing else growing here except for Marathon OG.” Hussle pinches a nug and invites the cameraman closer, you can almost smell the screen as we see the crystals on each bud.

Courtesy of Mark Escalante

As the documentary caught up to the present day, Sam expressed the lengths they would go to get the highest quality flower. “It doesn’t matter the price, we just want to get what people want,” he said as he fiddled through bags of inventory. Shots of him traveling from Oakland in sprinter vans show just how far they had to go. 

The audience was left inspired by Nipsey Hussle’s words from the song “Perfect Ten”:

“That’s why I call my thing The Marathon (yeah)
Because I, I’m not gon’ lie and portray, um, this ultimate poise
Like I been, had it figured out
Nah, I just didn’t quit”

The song faded into the background and the audience gave a round of applause. Nipsey’s dad took the microphone and shared a few words to express how hard Sam worked to make money for their family. “I don’t know how he [Sam] got into this, he doesn’t even smoke, but he looks at it and smells it and he knows better than the people that do smoke,” he said, making the crowd burst into laughter. 

This documentary is but a slice of Nipsey Hussle’s legacy and is stamped in time for the cannabis industry as laws continue to change across the country. Entrepreneurs of any business can take inspiration from Nipsey’s ability to adapt to his circumstance. His journey exemplifies how difficult it is for people of color to break into the legal cannabis business, even if you are an award-winning musician.

Courtesy of Mark Escalante

Today, The Marathon (Collective) in Canoga Park is a one-stop shop for a variety of THC and CBD products. Their rewards program allows customers to save on future purchases for several different brands. However, their Marathon OG is a must-try but my personal favorite is the Uncle Sam OG. 

The documentary officially drops on Friday, May 20th. Keep an eye out for the grand opening of The Marathon Store on Melrose and follow The Marathon Clothing for more information.

The post Nipsey Hussle’s TMC Hosts Documentary Screening for ‘The Marathon (Cultivation)’ appeared first on High Times.

London Mayor Announces Plan To Study Cannabis Legalization

London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced a plan to study the legalization of cannabis on Wednesday after visiting a dispensary and cultivation facility as part of an official visit to Los Angeles. Khan said that he was forming a commission to study cannabis legalization and named a prominent Labour Party official to head the panel.

Khan walked among growing cannabis plants and was introduced to the wide variety of products available at licensed cannabis dispensaries. The London mayor said that the commission he was appointing would examine the effectiveness of the city’s drug laws and explore how legalizing pot could help reduce “drug-related harm.”

“The illegal drugs trade causes huge damage to our society and we need to do more to tackle this epidemic and further the debate around our drugs laws,” Khan said. “That’s why I am in LA to see first-hand the approach they have taken to cannabis.”

The commission will gather evidence on cannabis legalization from around the world and will study the public health benefits of cannabis, the best methods to prevent misuse, and effective law enforcement strategies. The panel will make recommendations to City Hall and government officials, law enforcement, and public health officials. More appointments to the commission will be announced this summer. The London Drugs Commission is not expected to make its first report until next year.

Khan was escorted on the tour of the facility by representatives of the regulated cannabis industry and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Khan’s aides noted that regulated pot has generated millions of dollars in tax revenue for Los Angeles while providing economic opportunities for business owners and workers.

“The decriminalization and legalization of cannabis offers historically marginalized communities opportunities for healing, entrepreneurship, and wealth creation in this growing industry,” Garcetti said. “Cities have so much to learn from one another, and I applaud Mayor Khan’s thoughtful approach as London moves forward.”

Khan announced that he had appointed Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor in Tony Blair’s government and a current member of the Labour Party’s shadow cabinet, to lead the commission tasked with studying issues surrounding the potential legalization of cannabis in London. Although the city government does not have the power to unilaterally legalize pot, Khan hopes the work of the commission will spur conversation on cannabis policy reform. He plans to bring lessons learned from his visit to Los Angeles, which was one stop on a four-day trade mission to the United States, back to London to help inform the discussion on the issue.

“We must learn from others when considering our approach, and by examining the latest evidence from around the world and the world-class research from UCL, Lord Falconer and the commission will make recommendations to improve our approach to cannabis to help tackle drug-related crime, protect Londoners’ health and reduce the huge damage that illegal drugs cause to our communities,” said Khan.

Previously, Khan admitted to using cannabis while on a party trip to Amsterdam.

“I was young once and I’m not a prude,” he told reporters in 2018. “And I did inhale as well.”

Exploring Cannabis Policy Reform

The London delegation also met with representatives of the Los Angeles Police Department, city officials, and health experts to get additional perspectives on cannabis legalization and regulation issues. Khan has been exploring cannabis policy reform since 2019, when he called for a national review of cannabis policy and law enforcement after a spate of violent crimes linked to illicit drugs.

“It is a real opportunity for there to be a thorough look at the effectiveness of our drugs laws and policy on cannabis,” said Lord Falconer. “We need rigorously to identify what is the best approach to reduce harm to our communities. A national debate is long overdue. We aim to make recommendations to bring about effective and lasting change.”

But news of Khan’s commission was not received well back in the United Kingdom. Home Secretary Priti Patel, a member of the ruling Conservative Party, slammed the London mayor’s plans to decriminalize cannabis.

“Sadiq Khan’s time would be better spent focusing on knife and drug crime in London,” Patel said, as quoted by the Daily Mail. “The Mayor has no powers to legalize drugs. They ruin communities, tear apart families and destroy lives.”

Khan will also have to gain the support of the leadership of his own party if cannabis legalization in the U.K. is to become a reality. Party head Keir Starmer would likely oppose efforts at policy reform.

“Labour does not support changing the law on drugs,” said a spokesperson for the party. “Drugs policy is not devolved to mayors and under Labour would continue to be set by national government.”

The post London Mayor Announces Plan To Study Cannabis Legalization appeared first on High Times.

Green Street Festival, A Cannabis-Infused SXSW, Kicks off in L.A. May 13-14

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, scrap your plans for next weekend. That is, unless you’re already planning on hitting up the Green Street Festival.

The inaugural event is going down on May 13 and 14 in iconic downtown L.A., with organizers aiming to make it “the largest gathering of the cannabis community on the planet, with a vision of eventually hosting hundreds of thousands of guests directly in the heart of the city.”

Think: a cannabis-infused South by Southwest.

Green Street Festival was announced in January, and is being put on by the entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and Green Street, the cannabis business he acquired in 2017. It will “feature the city’s top restaurants, the state’s leading Cannabis brands, and the world’s top entertainers all brought together to celebrate the Cannabis community,” the announcement said.

“People want to either be educated or entertained. We are going to do both,” Vaynerchuk said in the announcement at the time.

Organizers said that the festival “will be anchored by the 8 story, 70,000 sqft, cannabis event and business epicenter located at 718 S. Hill Street featuring vendors, educational speakers, games, hotels & food activations from our awesome neighbors.”

The artist Cody Hudson was tasked with creating “the visual identity of Green Street Festival.”

“It’s been a wonderful project! Being able to have my vision for the festival’s graphics and aesthetics help to transform the space and everything inside of it, I’m just really looking forward to the ways we’ll be bringing cannabis, food and music together in one space and tying them all together visually,” Hudson said in January.

Courtesy of Green Street Festival

The event is only available to individuals 21 and older. And while cannabis will not be sold on site, the organizers said that they “have partnered with some of California’s best Dispensaries and Delivery providers in order to accommodate compliant consumption including: MMD, Buddha Co., HYPERWOLF, People’s, Alpaca Club, Originals Los Angeles, Compassionate Caregivers, Downtown Patient Group, Haven, Jungle Boys.”

“We have worked with our friends and neighbors to create multiple consumption areas around the festival,” the organizers said in the announcement. “There is a large smoking area right next to the registration area for the event, another on the 2nd floor balcony, and another area outside the Majestic Downtown Theater during the concert.”

In addition, there will be more than 50 of some of the best known cannabis brands showcased at the festival: Asterisk, BLOOM, Boveda, Brothers Broadleaf, Canna+Rise, Cannabistry, Absolute Xtracts, Farmer and the Felon, Hi-Fi Sessions, Loud + Clear, Claybourne Co., Clone Goddess, Country Crypto Cannabis Club, Dabwoods, Dispense App, Dutchie, Emerald Road, Fable, Headset, Hemper, Hempire, High Rise, Highsman, Ispire, Jungle Boys, Just Chocolate, Kalya Extracts, Kan+Ade, KYLE, Leaflink, Legal Pothead, Lithouse, Mills Nutrients, MJ Arsenal, Mohave Cannabis Co., Originals, Puffco, Raw Garden, Rove, Select, Sessions Goods, SHO, Source Cannabis, Sputnik Cannabis, STIIIZY, SUBSTANCE, SUPHERB, Surfside, The Cure Company, The Kind Pen, Vacation Cannabis Co., Waxnax, and Zanna.

“Weed is the headliner of this festival. We’ve been to countless Cannabis events across the country and we as attendees want to smoke weed with our friends and check in with the community, eat delicious food, and then be entertained… in that order” Rama Mayo, Green Street President, said in the event’s announcement back in January.

Here’s a rundown of the festival itinerary, per the event’s website: the first night, May 14, “is a private, VIP event that includes Dinner from 6pm to 10pm and is hosted by Gary Vee & Harry Mack,” while the second night, May 15, “is the main day and features our full lineup of brands, food, and more awesome stuff to do at Green Street plus the full concert lineup at The Majestic Downtown Theater located at 650 S. Springs Street LA CA 90014.”

Educators and entertainers who will be appearing at the festival include: Gary Vaynerchuk, Juicy J, Harry Mack, DāM-Funk, DJ Nu-Mark, Full Crate, Monalisa, Thinkspace Projects, and Mike Glazer.

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First Annual California Psychedelic Conference Highlights Influential People

Hosted by Oakland Hyphae and held at The East Angel in downtown Los Angeles between April 23-24, The California Psychedelic Conference is positioning itself as an essential source of passion to direct the psychedelics industry as it becomes more mainstream.

Event Founder Reggie Harris, who has previously been involved in other psychedelic-related events such as the Psilocybin Cup and Oakland Psychedelic Conference within the last two years, is excited to present a diverse group of people with a wealth of information to share about psychedelics. “This isn’t another event centered around Ivy League educated white males who work in Biotech or Pharma, and have never tripped before,” said Harris. “We’re featuring REAL people from the community, some of whom have been in the psychedelic game for decades.”

Some of the world’s most renowned mushrooms cultivators will be in attendance, as well as therapists, activists, medicine workers, and artists. “There will be deep dive discussions on the real history of psychedelic policy, hosted by people who experienced these moments firsthand,” an Oakland Hyphae press release states. “You can also expect panels on psychedelic parenting and maternity, sex and psychedelics, mushroom cultivation, harm reduction, avoiding the path of cannabis, and so much more.”

The press release also suggests that not becoming more actively involved in the legalization of psychedelics could “become a capitalist nightmare,” so the goal of this event is to highlight some of the industry’s most respected minds to help guide legislation as psychedelics enter the mainstream market.

“There would be no psychedelic community without the legacy community, PERIOD,” said Harris. “These people have put their lives on the line and built this culture for us to be a part of. In a day and age when we talk about ‘Land Back’ and Reparations, we have a unique opportunity to structure the psychedelic landscape in a way that will center the people who built this entire thing on their backs, who’ve been to jail and had their families split up. We should be rewarding them for taking those risks. That’s what we’re doing at the CA Psychedelic Conference.”

Harris has over a decade of experience in political campaigns. He’s worked locally with Oakland public schools and The Black Organizing Project, and he was also responsible for both western and southwestern campaigns for Color of Change, which is credited as part of the reason that Nevada “turned blue” in the 2020 election. In the realm of psychedelics, he has connected with many top mushroom growers, worked with a large cultivator in The Netherlands, and even consulted for a Jamaican mushroom farm and testing facility. His advocacy and passion to support “legacy plant medicine workers” has led him to protect the budding mushroom industry from being taken over by corporations.

Legislative efforts for psychedelics are rapidly gaining speed. Most recently, House Bill 2850 was introduced by Representative Tony Lovasco in Missouri, which if passed, would allow people who suffer from treatment-resistant depression, PSTD or terminal illness to use “dimethyltryptamine, ibogaine, mescaline (except peyote), psilocybin, and psilocyn” for medical treatment.

Last month in Michigan, Decriminalize Nature Michigan announced that it was officially certified to collected signatures to qualify for the November ballot for an initiative that “would decriminalize the possession and cultivation of ‘Natural plants and mushrooms’, reduce penalties for controlled substances that currently include life sentences and lifetime probation, and create pathways for religious organizations and hospitals to develop psychedelic assisted mental health and ceremonial services.” The chapter’s co-director, Julie Barron, describes this initiative as a “rare ray of hope for people who have been suffering.”

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The Wonder of Wonderbrett

Los Angeles is a place where, if one applies their trade with equal parts passion and skill, they can make a name for themselves as the best at what they do. Kobe. Clayton. Dre. Snoop. And when it comes to cannabis—Wonderbrett.

One of the industry’s most sought-after cannabis producers, a man more humbly known as Brett Feldman, earned his acclaim providing choice batches of the West Coast favorite OG Kush to supreme clientele such as Eminem and Cypress Hill’s B-Real, all while California was just beginning to allow medical use. 

“Even since the early 2000s, I was always hoping and dreaming that cannabis would become legal and we would be able to make a very prestigious brand one day,’’ Feldman says. “It was always in the back of my mind. I would think, ‘I can’t wait for this to be legal so we can grow, put it out there, and share good cannabis with other people around the world.’”

That time has come, as Wonderbrett recently launched its first retail shop in LA’s Fairfax District. Visitors can take in a double feature at Quentin Tarantino’s movie theater, shop for high-end sneakers at Undefeated and now purchase high-quality retail cannabis—all within a few miles.

“We’re LA guys,” Feldman says. “Our whole base of followers has been built in LA. We built our reputation in the music and entertainment community here. To have a store on La Brea Avenue in this location is paramount for our brand.”

With his flagship store now firmly tucked into a coveted Los Angeles retail district, Feldman looks back on the days when this legitimate business was once considered criminal more than two decades ago. 

“I just start thinking about the time I got extorted or the time I got robbed,” Feldman says. “All of these horrible things that you were victim to in that part of the business, whereas now the business is so different. It’s a grown-up, sophisticated business world. The stuff I went through then seems so irrelevant now.”

Wonderbrett’s understated and earthy interior design makes for an appealing, if stark, contrast from the colorful packaging and branding lining the store shelves.

Wonderbrett is divided into sections, with the flower wall facing the concentrates wall, and smalls, edibles and pre-rolls encased in the center.

“With the natural woods, hand-pounded pendant fixtures and the irregular wood on the floor, it’s not perfect—purposefully,” says Wonderbrett co-founder David Judaken.

“That adds to the comfort and vibe and energy of the space. When that’s in conflict with some of the branding, I think it sets each off and makes them better and more important because they’re juxtaposed to one another.”

As the retail shop passes its three-month anniversary, the founders say to expect more surprises.

“Wonderbrett is all about the drop,” Judaken says.

The company’s brick-and-mortar HQ may not even be the biggest news: For Wonderbrett, it’s all about the strains. The company’s strains have been available in a few dispensaries in small quantities, but the new location guarantees that customers can get their hands on some of the finest boutique genetics in the current market. Strains such as Pink Picasso and Orange Banana burst with flavor from each toke, while indicas such as OZ Kush and Black Orchid carry tinges of pine and gas.

Wonderbrett Grow Facility
One of 36 grow rooms at Wonderbrett’s Long Beach facility.

And, on this particular December 2021 weekend, the Wonderbrett Los Angeles location premiered the release of Feldman’s latest genetic achievement, Blueberry Purp.

“It’s got a blueberry flavor, also a sweet grape aspect and a savory cookie type flavor too. It’s been a long breeding process to create this strain. The OZK Cookies and Cream, Beyond Blueberry into Grand Daddy Purp. It’s a legendary strain. It’s one of those strains where people miss it so much and wish it would come back. But you need to polish it up and that’s what we did.”

But even before he takes time to enjoy his labor’s fruits, Feldman is already plotting his next genetic marvel.

“In my mind, I want to cross [Blueberry Purp] into the Pink Picasso and make a Blue Picasso. My gut instinct tells me that those two terpene profiles are going to make something very special. I’m really hoping for a blueberry champagne flavor.”

Feldman continues this theme.

“Now that I’m talking about it, I need to go home and roll up a joint that’s half Pink Picasso and half Blueberry Purp, and give myself a sneak peak,” he says. “Sometimes that inspires breeding as well.”

A genetic résumé as impressive as Wonderbrett may seem to be full of secrets, but for Feldman, crossing strains is just as easy as blending flowers together and lighting up.

And what would the THC percentage of a Blue Picasso be? According to Feldman, that’s not the right question to ask. 

“There are too many misnomers out there right now with people trying to seek out strains that are 30 percent THC or higher,” he says. “Those tend to be not the better of the strains if you were to do a blind taste test. You’re going to tend to like strains with higher terpene profiles, not just THC.”

Wonderbrett’s elevated menu may prove to be a bit overwhelming, so Feldman himself decided to offer some of his own personal picks.

Orange Sunset

“New customer, never smoked, I’m going to say Orange Sunset because the flavor is so undeniable that even somebody who doesn’t have a developed cannabis palette will immediately have a great experience,” Feldman says. “For someone’s first time trying cannabis it should taste like something they can relate it to. Most people have had orange juice or candy. It’s undeniably orange. It’d be really hard for someone to have a bad experience with that flower as a first-time smoker.”

For the experienced enthusiasts, Feldman turns it up a notch or three.

“For the elevated connoisseur who’s looking for the most unique, special terpene profile, I’d go with Pink Picasso,” he says. “It’s one of those strains where I should probably have that in my Instagram bio, you know, ‘creator of Pink Picasso’.”

As far as his all-time favorite strain, Feldman is quick on the draw: Cherry Trop.

“I’ve been smoking Cherry Trop every day,” he says. “It’s one of the most beautiful strains I’ve had the pleasure of growing. In the last two weeks of growing, it turns so purple and red. It doesn’t even look like a bag of weed; it almost looks like a cartoon. The terpene profile is delicious, too. It’s derived from Trop Cookies and Cherry Cookies, so it’s savory and has hints of Tangie, and it’s very potent.”

Exclusive strains are far from the only reason why enthusiasts should visit the new shop. The remarkable selection of flowers lining the west wall, the pre-rolls and edibles found in the middle displays showcase a blend of the industry’s top brands in addition to in-house product. 

“We like to bring in brands that we’d actually smoke,” Feldman says. “I want people to come in and not be overwhelmed. I want them to be able to have a selection that they can actually digest when they walk through here.”

Brett Feldman at Black Start Studios in Studio City, where the cultivator also spends time recording music.

But don’t rely on your new favorite flavor being available at Wonderbrett for too long. 

“You have to have things come and go. We’re constantly breeding and creating new strains and pheno-hunting,” Feldman says. “Our goal is to put out at least one new strain every three months, and if we can do more than that, we will.”

Feldman continues to support the hip-hop community that once helped launch his own career. One of his favorite brands to promote is Coffee and Kush, created by Los Angeles rapper Problem.

“I’m really proud of Problem,” Feldman says. “He’s doing it right, doing it himself. He found good growers to work with. It’s a good example of how a celebrity should approach this space versus just trying to get a royalty by giving their name out. I really applaud him—he’s an LA legend doing it right in this space.”

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

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Los Angeles’ First Cannabis Czar Cat Packer Steps Down

Cat Packer stepped down from her role as executive director of the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR), home to one of the largest, most challenging cannabis markets in the world. It is with gratitude that we thank her for her service as the city’s first “cannabis czar.” 

Packer served nearly five years, as the first person to assume the role of executive director of the DCR. The department is responsible for administering the cannabis licensing and regulatory program established by the Los Angeles City Council. 

DCR processes all applications for thousands of cannabis licenses in the City of Los Angeles, makes licensing decisions or licensing recommendations to the Cannabis Regulation Commission and regulates the operations of licensed cannabis businesses in the city.

Under the title, Packer advised Los Angeles officials on cannabis law, policy and regulation, and oversaw the city’s licensed commercial cannabis market. It was a challenging position for anyone to tackle. Over 1,200 business licenses were granted with Packer at the helm.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti first announced her departure on Twitter. “Under Cat’s leadership, DCR issued over 1,200 licenses, with over 350 granted to Social Equity applicants,” Garcetti wrote in a tweet. “DCR has generated over $320M in tax revenue since 2018. Cat’s tenure at DCR made the department a national model in establishing equitable cannabis policy and implementation.”

Packer wrote a resignation announcement on March 14, outlining some of her accomplishments during her tenure as executive director. “I am confident that the City will continue to deepen its commitment to address cannabis policy reforms and the disproportionate impact of the War on Drugs, and to improve upon existing efforts that make cannabis public policy more responsible and equitable,” Packer wrote. “Furthermore, I trust that DCR will continue to keep equity at the center of its mission, and expand and improve cannabis programs and services.”

Ironing Out Licensing Hurdles

Garcetti appointed Packer to the position in August 2017, after city voters approved the local regulation and taxation of adult-use cannabis earlier that year. 

Packer faced overwhelming odds and pressure during her reign, with challenges that could be expected in America’s second-largest city. Licensing processes were under constant fire. ​​In 2020, for instance, cannabis business license applicants in Los Angeles sued the city, claiming the process for applying for a license is flawed.  

A lawsuit was filed by the Social Equity Owners and Workers Association—demanding that the city vet all applications based on a first-come-first-served basis or come up with a new system that is more equal and transparent.

Virgil Grant, co-founder of the California Minority Alliance, said Packer is the fall person” who took the blame for various problems from the get-go, according to The EUR/Electronic Urban Report, while others cited other issues.

“It took a considerable amount of time for us to get the resources, whether it be staff or otherwise, to put our licensing program forward,” Packer told High Times last July. Packer’s staff was eventually tripled to meet the growing needs. As of last year, her team grew from a tiny five-person staff to a more reasonable 15-person staff. 

Initially, Packer sought out to become a civil rights attorney focusing on LGBTQ rights. But things changed in 2012 when Colorado and Washington legalized adult-use cannabis. While aware of the issue, she didn’t think critically about the topic for a few more years. 

But then in 2015, her final year in law school, Cat Packer began taking courses on how the law impacted everyday people. Once she was introduced to The New Jim Crow by civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander, a professor at the university, she said her eyes were opened. She agreed that nothing had contributed more to the systematic mass incarceration of people of color in the United States than the War on Drugs. 

In 2016, while working with Californians for Responsible Marijuana Reform, Packer campaigned for Proposition 64 with the Roll Up the Vote party with The Game and DJ Nitrane. It was around that time that High Times received emails from her and her campaign, urging volunteers to make calls to voters and get to work.

In the meantime, Michelle Garakian, assistant executive director of the Department of Cannabis Regulation, has been appointed interim executive director. Garakian was also a frequent correspondent with cannabis-related media.

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L.A. Cultivators, Jungle Boys, Raided Over Bogus Late Fees

Tuesday night saw one of Los Angeles’s most storied dispensaries have a rough run-in with law enforcement and The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

TLC is famously the headquarters of the Jungle Boys. They are one of the premier examples of urban farmers bootstrapping their way to success in the modern cannabis industry, which has seen so many tragically fall short and have to sell a piece, or sell out completely. So as one of the culture’s best success stories in a world of corporate dogs, the community was pissed to see what they had to go through last night. 

Why? Because we’ve watched them jump through every hoop that’s ever existed for the legal cannabis market in L.A. and maintain a quality that is better than most. While some would say, “Well, this is legal cannabis,” in regards to the raid, and wouldn’t be wrong, those with a bit more hope in their hearts would be pissed to see someone who’s done so well up to this point be treated like this.

So what happened? We talked with Ivan from the Jungle Boys to find out. 

“At five o’clock in the evening, we’re all sitting inside of the shop. It’s the first of the month so we’re paying all our bills,” Ivan told High Times. “We look up at the camera and see one car, two cars, three cars, four cars, and are like ‘holy shit, they must be chasing someone inside of our building,’ you know? We watched them come up and my first thought was either they’re chasing someone inside of our building or someone that worked for us maybe has a warrant or something.”

As they started to watch the employees get corralled by law enforcement, they realized the situation was quickly turning into something else. Ivan explained the shock of that moment, “We started seeing a round-up of all our employees into the front lobby area and were like, ‘are we fucking raided?’”

He immediately jumped on the line with his lawyer as he looked at the cameras. He then explained what happened next, “Right next to the office, two cops come with guns on us, put them in our face, tell us to get to the fucking ground, this is basically a raid, and we’re like what the fuck?” Ivan spent the first hour presuming someone had really screwed up somewhere to cause this kind of event at the shop. 

“I was thinking in my head we owed them millions of dollars,” Ivan said. “I’ve never seen it where you have Highway Patrol undercovers, LAPD, sheriff, every agency there all working together.”

Eventually, the TLC team would discover this was all caused by a fine discrepancy with the CDTFA from when their offices were closed during the pandemic and dispensaries couldn’t pay taxes in cash. Despite the $18 million they did receive from the Jungle Boys last year, they decided to move forward with this action on a $66,000 sum the Jungle Boys already received a hearing date for. 

The CDTFA regularly inspects California dispensaries. They’ll come in and ask to see your last few invoices to make sure everything is in order. We asked Ivan if, during those site inspections that have increased over the last year, anything seemed off or ever felt like things weren’t cool? He said it always seemed normal. They would come, say what they wanted to see, and TLC would go along with it. 

But once Ivan realized what was really up, they weren’t going along with this. 

“They’re trying to charge us late fees,” Ivan realized in that moment. “And we appealed that.”

TLC provided all the paperwork to the arriving authorities, but apparently, that still wasn’t enough.

“They won’t talk to our lawyer. They won’t look at the appeal paperwork,” Ivan said as he relived the shock of it all. “They just basically said they’re taking all the money inside the building. I’m like, wait, this is over the $66,000?”

At this point, Ivan’s demeanor started to change. 

“I’m like, fuck you motherfuckers, what the fuck? You’re fucking raiding our building over a fucking dispute that we have a date set that you guys have the email, you guys received it, you guys fucking accepted it! We send you faxes. We have all the paperwork, here it is. This is what this is about? I thought this was over, like, millions of fucking dollars that we messed up on.”

As Ivan was raging, the CDTFA cleared out $174,000 dollars from TLC. They even emptied the tip jars for the budtenders at the counter.

“This is our standard procedure for cannabis businesses or any business. We’re not singling out any industry or type of business. If you owe taxes in California, we do our best to collect what is due,” the CDTFA told High Times.

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Brand Spotlight: Gift of Doja

Gift of Doja (GoD) is a women-of-color-created cannabis equity brand—specializing in honoring the vibe of “all beings and all things.” GoD’s terpene-rich phenotypes can be found at many dispensaries throughout greater San Francisco and Los Angeles, or via various delivery services in the Bay Area. GoD Curator Nina Parks enjoys being a steward of sacred plant medicines and the Divine Feminine—for her, it’s a calling.

GoD curates small-batch cannabis grown by farmers from across California who choose to cultivate under processes using love and intention. You can find strains such as HER-lato, grown by Growing Tree Farms in Grass Valley, or Michelle Obama Kush, grown by a woman-owned cultivation site in Salinas Valley.

The brand came together in 2020, when Parks was inspired to start a business in spite of the odds. Shelter-in-place orders were still in effect then, but it provided a unique window of opportunity for some people, such as in Parks’ case. “[I] just happened to know one day,” Parks told High Times. “I woke up now, and I had a vision.”

Parks’ journey in the cannabis space began as she rolled out her brother’s brand, Mirage Medicinal. “Well, first off, my birthday is 4/20,” she said. “I was just kind of born for this shit, right? It actually started making a lot of sense too when people are like ‘you’re stoned all the time.’”

When people constantly asked Parks about her birthday, joining the cannabis industry just seemed to make sense.

Parks grew up deeply embedded in the world of street art—being exposed to art and streetwear while she was riding the bus throughout San Francisco. One of the things she likes most about living in a city like San Francisco is that you get to observe the ebb-and-flow of the human experience.

“I was reading Jay Z’s book the other day, Decoded,” Parks explained. “And like, he’s talking about Basquiat. And his reverence for him and how, even though they live very different lives, they all heard the same sirens.” 

Parks was intrigued how people all walk the same streets and with so many different universes in one densely-populated urban space. Part of that aesthetic included warehouse parties, people creating, people with cameras and documenting life. So, for Parks, she started off as a street photographer.

There’s always something going on in the San Francisco area. Not to mention the rich hippie culture in San Francisco—from the bohemian culture of places like The Fillmore, or the other areas in the Bay Area that have an innovative, creative vibe. San Francisco is a place that has the ability to provide the space for you to find yourself. “We’re not going to judge you if you come into a meeting smelling like weed—like half the city smells like weed. It’s not the same,” she said. “If you leave San Francisco, we are not the same.”

Part of the lifestyle in the city is reaching the coastline to be able to witness the sunset or finding a good peak to roll up and spark up a joint. GoD exudes the city’s magic. “With Gift of Doja, the purple on the packaging itself is really there to stimulate the imagination,” Parks said. “The sunset on the top of the jar is very much an homage to thatؙ—that moment between light and dark when everything is just beautiful. Then the space on top of the jars, for people just to write something out. Like I said, I came from graffiti culture and if you didn’t know how to write, you didn’t have a name, you know? That’s just something that’s just being lost. People don’t even teach handwriting in school anymore. I know, this is like a long way to get to like, where I’m going with a brand.”

Parks was in her twenties when she was able to witness graffiti expand from its definition as a “hooligan activity” into the fine art space. She saw so many similar things that were happening in the cannabis space when it was in the pirate-like, Wild West era. As a photographer in San Francisco, that vibe is something that Parks doesn’t want to lose. She always been documenting the things around her, such as civil protests in regards to police accountability.

Parks was also a case manager and fulfilled many other roles. As a middle-class mixed kid, she had the privilege of being able to move through many, many different spaces. “What I learned though, is that weed connected it all,” she said. “In every single space that I went into, like weed connected at either end or the beginning. So, if I wanted to be in a club, and I wanted to like shoot a concert, just like well, shoot some fire-ass weed over to the bouncer and you might just make it if it’s good shit.”

Courtesy of Gift of Doja

When Parks started running the delivery service, the satisfaction came from being able to bring somebody aid for their relief. It meant that a person who was chronically ill with a physical ailment wasn’t any bit more important than the one that had the mental, emotional ailment that just needed somebody to talk to.

Parks started learning more about cannabinoids, terpenes, the entourage effect, flavonoids, and she knew that she needed to continue to experience this. “I had the opportunity when I was rolling out my brother’s brand, Mirage Medicinal, to curate those menus. It was the best thing ever to just smell hella bags of weed.” She went on to explain how knowing the flavonoids has helped to sell cannabis over the phone. “They’re like, ‘What you got?’ I’m like, ‘Whoa, what are you looking for?’ And you just go down the whole adjectives list. The whole similes list. How else do you sell weed on the phone?”

Then life happened, and around 2017, when Parks’ father passed away, it was a massive challenge for Parks to keep doing what she does. Her father also didn’t leave a will. Her entire life had to pivot to cleaning up 64 years of his life, essentially, she said. 

When Parks finally came up for air, she wanted to know what it was going to look like, and what it is that she wanted to create that could add some value to the space.

“The plant wants you to play with your imagination. The plant wants you to play with your senses and still kind of be there. Gift of Doja and the way that the brand is rolled out, it’s very specific to different terpene profiles. So, you can get multiple jars [of] whatever flavors that I have; you will learn the plant through it. Through that, you get to figure out, much like how in Harry Potter the wizard goes to the wand and the wand starts moving and chooses the wizard—the weed eventually chooses you. You find the one that connects with your endocannabinoid system. Some people are just purchasing [based] on the THC content and it’s just like, ‘oh, you may just be fucking yourself up on it,’ you know?”

GoD is still in its infancy but Parks has plans to expand it into a place where people can come to have a whole plant experience and learn about it. She would like to be able to highlight the terpene profiles, highlight the territory that it was grown in, and highlight the growing processes that these cultivators really put their heart in.

Parks is always on the hunt for new phenos. She’s also enlisting the help of her friends because she does have her own specific terpene profile. You’ll find a lot of limonene, lemony-like flavors, because Parks likes that level of awareness associated with those strains.

For the People, By the People

Parks grew up saturated in California’s dispensary life: endless wellness centers. That’s how she grew up understanding the plant. “People are chronically ill for a plethora of different reasons; that could be everything from physical ailment to, like, mental health. Also it was like the veterans that really stood up and were like, ‘We need a place to be.’ That’s how all of these dispensary spaces and smoke lounges actually were able to pop up. We have that consciousness here.”

The cannabis industry grew out of the hippie movement—the free-loving, the ‘damn the man,’ anti-capitalist space.

Parks’ art and activism has always been front and center. “I struggle really hard with the business space because my mind doesn’t actually work in that way,” she said. “Where I’m like, ‘how am I going to squeeze every bit out of my bottom line?’ However, I’m also like, well, I definitely need to make sure that I can pay people well because the Bay Area is not an easy place to live.”

When Parks started selling weed, and not just with the delivery service, but participating in brokering, it finally opened the doors to financial freedom. She felt like she earned it and wasn’t just being plugged into somebody else’s machine.

“I can’t complete my dream without being in a space where we’re helping other people’s dreams also,” Parks said.

That’s what it’s like at a local equity distro, so after Parks left the delivery service, she plugged into local equity distro with Ramon Garcia, Morris Kelly, Ron Brandy, and Nancy Doe. “It’s like Black and Asian women and men, you know, it’s diversity,” she said. “The world is out there yelling and creating all of these divisive separations.

On GoD packaging there’s a little trademark, signifying equity trade. The equity trade indicates that GoD qualifies for equity in its local jurisdiction. There are provisions for local, state, or national equity certification. 

“So I qualify in my jurisdiction and I am committed to helping the cause move forward,” Parks said. “For me, also, as a business owner, that’s been everything, because working with folks, like more set-up SF routes, like seeing his hustle […]”

Parks wants to gain visibility and be represented in a way that’s meaningful in the space that we’re in. That can be an uphill challenge because getting shelf space isn’t easy. 

“[I’m] so blessed to be able to be rolling out at a High Times store, being able to see DIOS on the floor, too, and see them represented […] It’s phenomenal, you know, to be able to see it represented that way.”

While other people are focused on aspects such as merchandising and expansion—Parks is seeking a more organic experience. Just seeing the progression and being a part of it is what she believes will lead to balance. “You’ve got to have balance,” she said.

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

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Brand Spotlight: The Cure Company

For those on the hunt for top-shelf fire, you have arrived at your destination. Founded in 1996 and located in the revitalized Arts District in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, The Cure Company runs a two-story, seed-to-sale facility.

Part dispensary, part grow operation, the upstairs is a fully-functioning, eight-room cultivation hub. Downstairs, customers can browse through The Cure Company’s top-shelf cannabis phenos and other leading industry brands in the dispensary below—aptly named the City Compassionate Caregivers, or CCC.

The brand is notorious for providing expertly cultivated and highly sought-after cultivars, which are also sold in other dispensaries and brands stretching across the state of California. The Cure Company is also acclaimed for collaborating with some of the most iconic celebrities in weed culture—including Snoop Dogg and Nipsey Hussle, to name a few.

“When I was learning how to cultivate there was no Instagram. There were no forums telling you how to do it. All there was, was a hippie in the mountains with a barrel full of cash buried under some dirt saying, ‘I did it like that* or ‘I did it like this.’”

Courtesy of The Cure Company

The Chronic

The company offers everything from dank, fruit-forward hybrids like Sweet Thang (Cherry Pie x Do-Si-Dos) and GA Gelato (Gelato x Legend Orange Apricot) to indicas with private lineages like Marathon OG—with the late Nipsey Hussle’s exclusive endorsement. You’ll also find refined sativas like Mimosa (Purple Punch x Clementine) and the classic Lemon Haze (Silver Haze x Lemon Skunk) to burn with your morning coffee. Other incredible strains include indica-leaning hybrids like Monster Cookies, Heat Wave, King Louie, Papaya Punch, Tire Fire and King Stash. With a selection like this, The Cure Company has got you cured, so to speak.

These aren’t just names either. The strains bring forth an artistic identity created by The Cure Company, too. Each individually packaged premium strain has its own carefully designed box that describes its name with unique art. Sweet Thang touts seductive, hot-pink lips with bud sitting gently between the teeth, while Papaya Punch exhibits an explosive, juicy green papaya that’s just oozing with flavor.

The Cure Company
Courtesy of The Cure Company

The Humble Beginning

Behind every leading brand is work, dedication and know-how.

The odds are good—unless you’re a cannabis industry insider—that you’ve never heard of Patrick, The Cure Company’s founder. But, if you’ve smoked medical marijuana in California in the past 15 years, you’ve likely enjoyed his product at some point.

Or maybe he sold you an eighth out of his car in Los Angeles in the ’90s, long before dispensaries were a thing.

Like many successful LA-based brands, The Cure Company doesn’t lack the culture that it’s been earning over decades. According to Patrick, it was the hustle of the early days that helped The Cure Company become the large-scale producer of premium cannabis that it is today.

Like many in the scene, before he founded The Cure Company, he was slanging the best chronic from the trunk of his car to people from all walks of life.

“Because I had been on my own since a young age, I

knew so many people from so many environments and everyone knew me, and I got along with them all and that was my life,” he said. “I was living the life. I was the man. I loved it. I always had a fat wad of money in my pocket.”

And then a funny thing happened: It all became legal.

“I’m like, ‘Holy shit! I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.’”

That was when he walked into his first medical marijuana dispensary, in 2005. He’d been selling weed in the grey market for years, but here, people were just walking in and choosing from dozens of different strains. The store even advertised on the radio.

After opening dispensaries in the downtown LA area, he was naturally led to cultivation. Let’s face it—there’s no better way to ensure you have the best buds, unless you do it yourself.

The Cure Company
Courtesy of the Cure Company

When in Doubt, Grow Your Own

Before The Cure Company was the massive vertically integrated company that it is today, a key component in ensuring consistent buds was by Patrick and his team to learn expert cultivation. When it was time to start cultivating, at first it was something Patrick hadn’t done much of, at least not successfully.

“When I was learning how to cultivate there was no Instagram. There were no forums telling you how to do

it. All there was, was a hippie in the mountains with a barrel full of cash buried under some dirt saying, ‘I did it like that’ or ‘I did it like this.’”

The learning curve was a steep one, three or four years of subpar harvests he had to sell anyway because of the money and time investment.

“I perfected it. It took me a long time to get beyond that curve. It almost broke me, but I stood persistent. I kept working hard. I got a lot of advice from the best people out there and was able to innovate, learn, make good friends,” he said.

The hard work paid off, to say the least. Now consumers know that The Cure Company delivers nothing but the best strains, consistently, every time, without fail.

The Cure Company’s seed hunters have found some of the best strains, such as Marathon OG, the brand’s signature product. It was the result of a partnership with the late Nipsey Hussle, a hip-hop artist who died in 2019. Vouched for by Hussle as a “pure OG,” it’s exactly what the LA crowd knows and loves, growing up smoking those old-school OG strains for days.

Marathon OG is also a strain that was given to Patrick by “an old-school hippie” 15 years ago. Says The Cure Company website, “This is aheavy-hitting indica strain that’s great for boosting mood, relieving pain, and encouraging rest in the most seasoned of smokers.”

Nowadays, The Cure Company brand is all about the strains, brands and hashtags. The company currently owns grow operations with a combined 2,000 lights in California alone. Patrick manages 300 employees, plus another 500 in the other brands, dispensaries and products he owns or co-owns. He estimates he cultivates at least 35 brands of cannabis for other companies as well.

Patrick also has plans for cultivation facilities in Nevada and Massachusetts and a “master plan” for growing in 10 states. “Our goal is to continue growing the highest-grade cannabis and be able to reach out across the country so other people won’t have to come to California to get our flower.”

From there the dream gets even bigger. “When I finish that model, I’m going to hand the boat over and open three large cultivation facilities, one of the East Coast, one for the West Coast and one for the Midwest. My goal is to be one of the final three or four guys who end up on top, one of the last privately-owned cannabis businesses, grown organically with family.”

Because he started in the industry early, he’s well-positioned to compete with the corporate money now flowing into cannabis. Not all will be so lucky, he said.

Still, he’s come a long way from slinging baggies out of his trunk in downtown LA. “It sucks because it’s not nearly as fun. Life was fun. There was a lot less stress,” he says. “Now with taxation being as high as it is…The little guy can’t make enough money to expand his business and the guys with the big money are going to come in and they don’t need (return on investment) as fast as the little guy.”

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

The post Brand Spotlight: The Cure Company appeared first on High Times.