April 20 Becomes a Paid Holiday for Employees at a Massachusetts Cannabis Company

According to Temescal Wellness Director of Retail and Customer Engagement, Sian Leininger, this honors both cannabis culture as well as employees. “4/20 is a day to show appreciation, love and respect for cannabis and its power to help amplify the health and happiness that people experience in their daily lives,” Leininger said in a press statement. “For us, it’s a day to celebrate our employees, whose passion, knowledge and true dedication inspires their unparalleled service to our customers and our community all of the other days of the year.”

The paid holiday extends to retail employees, as well as production facilities and corporate offices as well. Leininger added that closing up shop on one of the biggest days of the year isn’t as important as the wellbeing of their employees. “One of our core company values is wellness—and that means the wellness of our customers, our community, and our entire team,” said Leininger. “While 4/20 is one of our most profitable days, we hope making it a paid holiday off for our team elevates it as a day for everyone to celebrate cannabis and the community around it.”

To supplement the April 20 holiday closure, Temescal Wellness is offering various price offers and “its most comprehensive menu to date” throughout the month of April.

According to a 2022 sales report from Akerna, cannabis sales were high during the entire week and weekend leading up to the unofficial holiday. Last year 4/20 landed on a Wednesday, and while that day did see the highest amount of money collected from sales between April 15-20, sales from Friday, April 15, 2022 were a close second. The data company also recorded that sales overall in 2022 were less than that of 2021.

This year, 420 is gearing up to be another massive celebration of the plant. Many events are returning, some for the first time since the pandemic hit. 4/20 at Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco will not only be returning in full swing, but it’s also live streaming the event for those who can’t attend in person (for a fee). The Mile High 420 Festival returns to Civic Center Park in Denver, Colorado on April 20 as well. The National Cannabis Festival will be held at the RFK Festival Grounds in Washington, D.C. on April 22. Even Willie Nelson, who’s turning 90 this year on April 29, is holding a one-of-a-kind concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California that features not just him, but a massive cast of musicians.

April 20 has gone from underground, “unofficial” holiday to actual holiday over the past few years, as medical and recreational legalization has spread throughout the country. Like many other holidays, such as Saint Patrick’s Day or Christmas, the origin of 420 has become a legend. There are many variations of its origin and who was involved, but most believe that students of San Rafael High School in San Rafael, California (referred to as the 420 Waldos) coined the term to secretly communicate a meet-up time to smoke cannabis at the campus statue of Louis Pasteur. 

High Times Magazine Editor-in-Chief Ellen Holland went to check out the statue last year, but the statue was in storage until campus construction was completed. Her 420 pilgrimage of sorts led her to a few 4/20 parties as she detailed her journey in her article “Finding 420.”

Do you think that April 20 should be a paid holiday for everyone who works in the cannabis industry? How would you choose to celebrate if you got the day off? Let us know in the comments!

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Week in Review: Jay-Z Sued; Hawaii Says “Aloha” to Recreational Pot; Heavy Metal Debuts

Jay-Z’s Monogram and TPCO Sued

Monogram, the cannabis company owned by billionaire rapper Shawn Carter aka Jay-Z, is facing serious allegations in a lawsuit filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court on February 16, according to SFGate.

Cathi Clay, a former vice president of The Parent Company (TPCO), a California-based cannabis company that operates the Monogram brand, claims to have “experienced years of harassment” from the company’s executives who allegedly acted “aggressive, demeaning and publicly questioned her abilities.” Clay also alleges that Chief Financial Officer Mike Batesole made “many inappropriate comments about women, hiring ‘housewives’ to perform accounts payable, people of color and skill sets of employees.”

The lawsuit also claims that executives shipped cannabis across state lines from California to New York “for a Monogram event with Shawn Carter”—an act prohibited by California’s cannabis regulations and a federal felony. Additionally, Clay claims that TPCO made “inaccurate” payments with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in both 2021 and 2022.

In an email to SFGate, a spokesperson from TPCO said, “The company does not comment on active litigation and plans to defend itself strongly against the false accusations.”

The SFGate reports that according to a summons filed with the court, TPCO has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit and an initial court hearing “has not yet been scheduled.” 

Hawaii Senate Advances Cannabis Legalization Bill

PHOTO shanemyersphoto

The Hawaii Senate voted in favor (22-3) of SB 669, a cannabis legalization bill that would legalize adult-use cannabis, on Tuesday.

SB 669 would allow adults 21 and older to possess, share and transport up to 30 grams (or one ounce) of cannabis. The law also permits up to six cannabis plants, including a maximum of three mature, flowering plants, to be grown indoors. The legislation also lessens the penalties for unlicensed cannabis cultivation and sales and provides for the expungement of some marijuana-related crimes.

“For years, advocates have been working to pass legislation to sensibly legalize cannabis in Hawaii,” said DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative counsel at the Marijuana Policy Project and Hawaii resident, in a statement from the group. “Now that this bill has advanced out of the Senate, Hawaii is one step closer to becoming the next state to end cannabis prohibition.”

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Stanley Chang (D), Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole (D), Sen. Angus McKelvey (D) and Sen. Joy San Buenaventura (D) and now heads to the opposite chambers for consideration. If passed, it would make the Aloha State 22nd in the nation to legalize recreational cannabis.

Heavy Metal Entertainment & Berkshire Roots Announce Partnership

Heavy Metal Cannabis
Image courtesy of Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal Entertainment (HME) and Berkshire Roots, one of Massachusetts’s leading cannabis cultivation and dispensary operators, has announced a partnership in which Berkshire Roots will provide new flower strains and develop distinctive cannabis products branded “Heavy Metal” to go along with HME’s plans to provide its fanbase with cutting-edge and thrilling new media and experiences while also luring in new customers to its rich history of tales and characters.

Heavy Metal launched in 1977 as a print magazine that combined iconic adult-themed concepts and characters in a way that was unmistakably reminiscent of comic books. The magazine continues to highlight incredible new talent and renowned creators and primarily features interviews, artist galleries and stories. Along with the legendary magazine, HME also publishes a wide array of comic books and graphic novels; runs a podcast network; and operates a budding television and film studio.

“When we were all introduced to Berkshire Roots, we immediately gravitated to the idea of a connection between our brand and cannabis,” said Heavy Metal Studios President Tommy Coriale. “We can’t wait to see this product connect to both the long-time fans and the younger generation who are just getting to know Heavy Metal for the first time.”  

Berkshire Roots CEO, James Winokur called the partnership “game-changing.”

“Building on the reputation and consumer loyalty Berkshire Roots has established since it launched, we’re now in a position to guide other brands that want to enter the cannabis market and Massachusetts specifically,” Winokur says. “I think this model is game-changing for the industry and I can’t think of another partnership like this in the cannabis space.”  

The Heavy Metal cannabis line will premiere at the Berkshire Roots booth during the New England Cannabis Convention Boston trade show from March 10-12 and will be available from selected retailers throughout Massachusetts.

Pure Imagination Festival Dreams Up 2023 Lineup Featuring Ziggy Marley and Lucinda Williams

Image courtesy of Pure Imagination Festival

Described as “a festival of music, wonder and breathtaking views,” Pure Imagination, an eco-forward, female-founded, all-ages destination festival, has announced the not-to-be-missed lineup for the May 20 event, located on Watson Lake Park near Prescott, Arizona.

Headline acts include eight-time Grammy winner Ziggy Marley, Lucinda Williams, Capital Cities and recent Grammy nominee Allison Russell. Beloved Southern hip-hop group Nappy Roots, Brandy Clark, Ponderosa Grove, Jared James Nichols, The Brummies, Johan Glidden and Cole Ramstad (DJ Sets) will also perform at the family-friendly event.

“I’m so thrilled that Pure Imagination festival was embraced so beautifully in our inaugural year,” said the event’s founder Candace Devine, who’s scheduled to perform with her band, Ponderosa Grove. “It’s the energy of our community and those who travel from near and far that create the magic that has continued to inspire all of us.”

Watson Lake Park is located in the spectacular Granite Dells and High Desert of Northern Arizona, which has mild and welcome seasons, clean air, beautiful lakes and otherworldly natural scenery. Miles of hiking paths, on-site lawn games, frisbee golf, 20 food trucks and kayaking are all available to festival attendees on the grounds. Tickets are available on the Pure Imagination website.

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Heavy Metal To Launch Cannabis Line in Massachusetts

Heavy Metal Entertainment revealed this week that it is partnering with the licensed cannabis company Berkshire Roots to launch a new line of weed products for the regulated market in Massachusetts. Through the new partnership, the two companies will offer new flower strains and create unique cannabis products under the trade name “Heavy Metal,” a brand that rose to fame more than 40 years ago with a science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazine and feature film.

Heavy Metal Entertainment (HME) has made a name for itself since the company was founded in 1977 by bringing adult-oriented science fiction, fantasy and horror entertainment to the mainstream. Heavy Metal was launched as a print publication curating unique comic book-style stories with adult-themed subjects and characters the like of which were simply unavailable through mainstream media. Four years later, Heavy Metal and legendary producer and director Ivan Reitman released the groundbreaking 1981 film, bringing the magazine to life on the silver screen and introducing adult animation to a worldwide audience.

Heavy Metal was the first magazine to bring the work of European artists including Moebius, Enki Bilal and Pepe Moreno to the United States while featuring skilled American talent such as Richard Corben, Jim Steranko and Bernie Wrightson. The magazine continues to showcase emerging new talent and established creators through serialized and standalone stories, artist galleries and interviews.

Under a new ownership group, HME is focused on a comprehensive fan experience unique in the entertainment industry, delivering content across print publishing, new media and a newly launched television, film and animation content studio.

To kick off the new Heavy Metal cannabis launch in Massachusetts, James Winokur, CEO of Berkshire Roots, and Heavy Metal Studios President Tommy Coriale will be at the New England Cannabis Convention (NECANN) in Boston this weekend. The new line of products will then be available at licensed dispensaries throughout Massachusetts beginning in April.

Courtesy Heavy Metal

“Building on the reputation and consumer loyalty Berkshire Roots has established since it launched, we are now in a position to guide other brands that want to enter the cannabis market and Massachusetts specifically,” Winokur said in a joint statement from the two brands. “We want to work with unique offerings that set themselves apart in a crowded field. When I first started thinking about the Heavy Metal brand and how creative we could get in our product offerings, I became really passionate about working with the HME team. I think this model is game-changing for the industry … Our customers are going to really love this pairing!”

Pittsfield, Massachusetts-based Berkshire Roots is a cannabis cultivator, processor and retailer with dispensaries in Pittsfield and East Boston. In addition to the company’s shops, Heavy Metal branded cannabis products will be available starting next month at other licensed retailers throughout Massachusetts including Budzee Delivery, Dreamer, The Goods, Honey, Nature’s Remedy, Northeast Alternatives, Nova Farms, Panacea Wellness and Zyp Run Delivery.

“When we were all introduced to Berkshire Roots, we immediately gravitated to the idea of a connection between our brand and cannabis,” said Coriale. “As conversations with company management went on and Heavy Metal got a glimpse of their follow-up product ideas, we grew increasingly excited as they really understood the DNA of the brand and its commitment to enhancing our customer experience in unexpected ways. We can’t wait to see this product connect to both the long-time fans, and the younger generation who are just getting to know Heavy Metal for the first time.”  

The cannabis community will get its first look at the new Heavy Metal products this weekend at NECANN, a cannabis industry trade show taking place in Boston from March 10 through March 13.

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The 2022 Cannabis Cup Tour Report

Twenty-one Cups, 339 brands, 1,389 batches of entries, all judged by about 15,000 judges who helped crown 249 award-winners for best products in their state. Our industry is going through a tough recession, restrictive regulations, and plenty of other woes, but one thing that’s for certain is that people want to find out who has the best weed, and we’re here to help. 

As a refresher on the new model, the Cannabis Cup People’s Choice concept opened up the competitions to a whole new world of possibilities. Switching from having a small pool of hand-selected judges, the People’s Choice model allowed consumers from all walks of life and palette types to be a judge. Now with up to 228 judge kits per category, judge kits are no longer reserved only for the Snoop Doggs and Frenchy Cannolis of the world (RIP Frenchy). 

Ever seen people waiting in line for that new Supreme drop? You’ll find the same thing when the judge kits drop. Each Cannabis Cup consists of anywhere between 1,800-3,300 judge kits available across the state via hand-selected dispensaries that get a rush of consumers ready to grab their bag. With categories ranging from Indica Flower to Sativa Flower, Non-Solvent Concentrates to Edibles, and Topicals to Tinctures, there is something for every cannabis enthusiast. Judge kits come packed with products submitted into the Cup from brands well-known and obscure, all in hopes that judges will score them highest on Aesthetics, Aroma, Taste, Effects, Burnability, Terpene Profile and other criteria. Most importantly, we gather detailed comments from all judges, or at least the caring ones, on their experience – all impactful for the growers and processors to see what people truly, and anonymously, think. If you haven’t been a judge in the past because you were never selected, now is the time to get in on the action. Visit CannabisCup.com/Preregister to get updates. 

Courtesy High Times

To many’s surprise, we started the year off in one of the most bustling cannabis markets, the state of Michigan. During 4/20 week, from Detroit to Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo to Crystal Falls, crowds of judges lined up early to be the first to get their hands on their judge kits, which varied between 17 different categories including medical and recreational products. With 3,300 judge kits, this was the biggest Cannabis Cup in history. I spent 26 cold days in Detroit for this one. Local community favorite, LocalGrove, came back with first place wins in several Flower categories with their Runtz and Brain Stew, while newcomers FLWRPot and Society C slid in to take home 1st place wins for Tropicanna Cherry under Rec Hybrid Flower and Spritzer under Rec Indica Flower, respectively. We saw the infamous CannaBoys come out from the darkness to win Best Medical Pre-Rolls and Rec Non-Infused Pre-Rolls with their Zhits Fire Cannonz, while fresh collabs stole the Concentrates show including Pro Gro x Element plus Glorious Cannabis Co. x Superior Solventless. Afternoon Delite, KIVA, Binske, Church x Pressure Pack, Pro Gro, and Hypha all came home with 1st place trophies.

Returning to our backyard here in California, we brought together 150 entries across 57 brands that came in with unique strains and product types for our judges. Thanks to our 7 High Times dispensaries, plus Green Dragon shops, we had 2,000 judges voting across 11 categories. Top-Shelf Cultivation returned with 1st Place trophies for Indica Flower and Pre-Rolls for their Whoa-Si-Whoa strain, while Team Elite Genetics and SENSE took 1st in Sativa and Hybrid flower, respectively. Jeeter, Bear Labs, PAX, Sensi, Bhang, Mari Y Juana, Dr. May, and Kan-Ade are amongst the 1st Place winners as well. Honestly though, there are too many great cultivars in CA that aren’t competing and simply letting other people take home the gold. We’re hoping to change that.

We ventured off into the mountains of Colorado in June to see who’s been bringing the fire since our last Denver Cup in 2020. High Level Health kept their streak going with 1st Place Indica Flower, Hybrid Flower and Solvent Concentrates, while Veritas took 1st Place Sativa Flower. I have to give a nod to D’Z Trees Honolulu Choo Choo which took 2nd Place Sativa and kept me running like a train during this laborious 3-week process. The AKTA Tropicanna Banana Live Rosin was a huge fan favorite; taking home 1st Place Non-Solvent Concentrates. High Country Cones, Nectar Bee, Evolab, Mountain Select, Smokiez, Incredibles and Escape Artists joined the 1st place podium as well. 

Excited to return to my Midwestern stomping grounds (I lived in Cleveland for 5 years), we ran the 3rd-ever Cup in Illinois, launching it with a small judging session at the RISE Consumption Lounge in Mundelein where judges came together as a community to smoke and discuss terpene profiles of each entry. Highly-regarded Fig Farms expanded into the state this year and took home 1st Place Sativa Flower, while behemoths Rythm and RevCanna took home 1st in Indica Flower and Hybrid Flower, respectively. RevCanna won several awards including 1st Place for Concentrates with their Gorilla’d Cheese Rosin which one judge describes as “Hands down the most potent and volatile terpenes in the kit” while another judge claims “The smell is so weird it may polarize a household worse than the 2020 election.” Other 1st place trophies went to Nature’s Grace and Wellness, Superflux, Mindy’s, Verano Reserve, Beboe, Incredibles and Bedford Grow. 

Courtesy High Times

Next up, we froze our butts off and explored the beautiful ranges of the Last Frontier up in Alaska, where the sun was shining until 10:30pm everyday. No MSOs, just local craft cultivators putting their hearts into their products. High North was a huge standout with all of their flower, but their Black Koffee takes the cake for Indica Flower. One judge noted that “The robust dark roast flavor comes through smoothly” and “the aches and pains drift away as you melt into the surroundings.” I’ll take some of that please. AM Delight and Flower Mountain Farms respectively brought home trophies for Sativa Flower and Hybrid Flower, while the highly sought-after Refine Alaska wowed judges with their Royal Gorilla Loud Resin for first place. GOOD Cannabis, Enlighten Extracts, Einstein Labs, Dosed Edibles, and Great Northern Cannabis were amongst the 1st place winners as well. 

Last Cup of the year, but not least, the Commonwealth called us back for the 2nd annual Cannabis Cup in September. People in Massachusetts are very discerning and don’t take kindly to bullshit; it was very apparent in their judging comments. That said, Happy Valley powered a winning streak with Hybrid Flower, Sativa Flower, Beverages and Sativa Gummies, while Northeast Alternatives brought in 1st Place Indica Flower for their Runtz OG. First place trophies also went home with Treeworks, Triple M, Munchèas by GGG, Smokiez, Incredibles, Sticky Fish as well as Church x Pressure Pack.

Courtesy High Times

The Cannabis Cups are for consumers to learn about all of the products they have access to and to determine who is the best of the best in their state. They’re also for the brands to learn more about their customer base and improve their products so that consumers get what they deserve. We will continue to plan and execute Cannabis Cups in territories where it’s legal, and continue to shine a light on the Cannabis Cup-winning brands around the world in 2023 and beyond. Thanks to everyone involved in each and every one of these Cups. 

To see all Cannabis Cup People’s Choice winners and upcoming competitions, visit CannabisCup.com
Interested in competing? Email Competition@hightimes.com
Interested in Judging? Sign up for updates at CannabisCup.com/Preregister
Stay tuned on social media @hightimesmagazine

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Two Bills to Decriminalize Psychedelics Filed in Massachusetts

Two bills were filed in Massachusetts to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, mescaline, and ibogaine. The bills would end the prosecution of psychedelic substances in the Bay State.

The Boston Herald reports that companion bills were filed in the Massachusetts House and Senate. The House bill, “An Act relative to plant medicine,” or Bill HD.1450, was filed by Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa. The Senate bill, titled “An act relative to plant medicine,” Bill SD.949 was filed by Sen. Patricia Jehlen.

Adults ages 18 and older would not be prosecuted for personal amounts of psychedelics.

The bill would decriminalize “the possession, ingestion, obtaining, growing, giving away without financial gain to natural persons 18 years of age or older, and transportation of no more than two grams of psilocybin, psilocin, dimethyltryptamine, ibogaine, and mescaline.”

The bills would amend the state general law’s Section 50: Entheogenic Plants and Fungi.

The bill however does not allow for the sale of psychedelics: “‘Financial gain’ shall mean the receipt of money or other valuable consideration in exchange for the item being shared,” the bill adds.

“Mushrooms are life changing,” James Davis, co-founder of Bay Staters for Natural Medicine, said in a statement. “From depression to addiction to painful cluster headaches, they are a tool that people should use in a caring community.

“There’s no better way to promote intentional and mindful use than to decriminalize minor amounts for home growing and sharing without enabling commercial sale,” Davis added.

“Humans have used psychedelic plants and fungi, non-addictive by their nature, for spiritual relief for more than 13,000 years: from Northern Africa and the Americas—to Greece and the Middle East,” Bay Staters for Natural Medicine states on their website. “President Nixon banned these plants as Schedule One “drugs” through the Federal Controlled Substances Act without scientific basis to purposefully criminalize Black Americans and anti-war protesters. We work to reverse these policies and stop for-profit corporations from monopolizing the facilitation market to needlessly charge desperate people thousands of dollars.”

The statewide move comes after a handful of cities decriminalized psychedelics at the city level. Somerville, Cambridge, Northampton, and Easthampton, for instance, voted to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and other entheogenic plants.

The reasons to decriminalize are growing: The global market for psychedelic drugs including psilocybin, ketamine, and LSD is expected to grow to nearly $12 billion per year before 2030, according to data from a recent market analysis. In a report released last Thursday, Brandessence Market Research revealed that the psychedelic drug market is anticipated to reach a valuation of $11.82 billion by 2029, growing from an estimated $4.87 billion in 2022.

Psychedelic-assisted therapy is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance. Belief that psychedelics could help control the opioid epidemic is growing. A 2017 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study, involving 44,000 participants, found that psychedelic use was associated with a 40% reduced risk of opioid abuse. A more recent study that suggested an even stronger reduced risk—55%.

Meanwhile, Tryp Therapeutics signed a letter of intent earlier this month with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, to fund and conduct a Phase 2a clinical trial. The team of researchers will be investigating the effects of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of patients aged 21 and older who are suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

More states are moving to loosen laws surrounding psychedelic use for therapeutic purposes. Colorado and Oregon decriminalized psilocybin mushrooms.

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Massachusetts Adult-Use Cannabis Reaches Nearly $4 Billion in 2022

The Massachusetts CCC’s report shows that between Jan. 1 and Dec. 18, 2022, the state collected $1.42 billion in adult-use sales. In a breakdown of sales by month, the state collected a fairly steady amount of sales, the highest being $132.4 million in July and $130.8 million in August, and the lowest with $110.1 million in February and only $73 million in December (since recording ended on Dec. 18, this sales data is lower).

The last week of sales by day leading up to Dec. 25 were notably high, starting at $3.2 million on Monday, Dec. 12 reaching a height of $5.1 million on Saturday, Dec. 17, and dropping to $4 million on Dec. 18. Consumers mainly purchased flower during this week specifically, with a total of over $11 million, followed by vape-related products at $6 million, and pre-rolls and edibles nearly the same, both around $4 million each.

Massachusetts legalized adult-use cannabis in November 2018, and since then the state has collected $3.9 billion in total gross sales. It first reached the $1 billion mark in October 2020, then $2 billion in July 2021, and $3 billion in May 2022.

Medical cannabis sales in 2022 during the same period reached $260.2 million, although a gradual decline is seen after the highest medical sales months of March and April, which collected $24.7 million and $24.4 million respectively. The Massachusetts CCC’s graph generally shows a decrease in sales from that point, down to $20.6 million in November, and finally $12.1 million in December.

Gross medical cannabis sales just hit $929.6 million this December, which still reflects steady overall growth since November 2018. Although medical cannabis went live in Massachusetts in January 2013, sales data prior to November 2018 is not available prior to when the CCC took control over the Medical Use of Marijuana Program.

Over the past four years since adult-use cannabis began, the cost of flower has decreased over time. With a few exceptions in March, April and May 2020 due to the pandemic, the average price of flower per gram has remained around $14 until June 2021. After that point, price per gram continued to decrease every month, landing at $7.76 per gram in November 2022, and increasing slightly to $8.07 in November 2022. This coincides with CCC data showing the state’s history with cannabis cultivation. In terms of plants harvested, the state began with only 79 plants in November 2018; followed by 247,793 in November 2019; 699,938 in November 2020; 1,413,311 in November 2021; and finally a huge jump to 2,655,494 plants in November 2022.

According to Boston.com, Brandon Pollock, CEO of Theory Wellness, said that the completion of many cultivation facilities over the last year has contributed to the imbalance of supply and demand. “The last 12 months have been fairly drastic. I’d say on the wholesale market, prices might be down approximately 50% in one year, which is, for folks that are only on the cultivation side of the business, especially difficult,” Pollock told Boston.com.

Joseph Lekach, CEO of Apothca, also explained that this imbalance has been present for some time. “A year and a half, two years, three years ago, it wasn’t good either. It was unbalanced to the high side, now it’s unbalanced for the low side. So this is temporarily good from a customer’s perspective,” Lekach told Boston.com. “But a lot of manufacturers and cultivators will cut costs wherever they can just to stay alive. You’re going to have an inferior product coming out. It’s a double-edged sword.”

Lekach also estimated that based on this current trend, many cannabis companies will be out of business by next year. “We have no idea where the bottom is going to be. I think that there’s a lot of companies suffering because of this,” said Lekach. “I think you’re going to see a lot of companies going out of business probably next year and into 2024.”

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Massachusetts To Add Lessons on Weed Impairment to Driver’s Ed

Individuals enrolled in Massachusetts’ driver’s education program will receive a new lesson starting next year.

According to State House News Service, the Registry of Motor Vehicles, which oversees the program in the Bay State, “indicated Monday that is adopting the AAA curriculum, which is called ‘Shifting Gears: The Blunt Truth About Marijuana and Driving,’ in partnership with members of the Cannabis Control Commission.”

The outlet reports that the Registry of Motor Vehicles “plans a formal announcement on Friday at the Worcester Registry of Motor Vehicles,” and that it “indicated the curriculum will be adopted in January, and will update the driver education module to include research-based information on cannabis and an explanation of how tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in marijuana, affects cognition, vision, reaction time, and perception of time and distance.”

Per local news station WCVB, the program will make Massachusetts “the first state in the nation with legal recreational marijuana to add lessons about cannabis impairment to driver’s education programs.”

“The current driver education module addressing impaired driving will be updated to include research-based information on cannabis, explaining how tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in marijuana, affects cognition, vision, reaction time, and perception of time and distance,” officials with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation said, as quoted by WCVB.

In a statement quoted by State House News Service, the Registry of Motor Vehicles said that next year’s driver’s education enrollees will represent “the first generation of driver education students to be licensed since cannabis became legal in Massachusetts, and AAA research shows that impaired driving crashes may increase and continue to injure and kill motorists and their passengers.”

Such curricula will likely become even more prevalent as more states enter the era of legalization and end prohibition on recreational pot use. 

Last year, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, signaled that he wanted to address the problem of stoned driving in the state, which legalized weed in 2016.

Baker threw his support behind legislation called the “Trooper Thomas Clardy Law,” which bears the name of the late Massachusetts State Trooper Thomas L. Clardy, who died while making a traffic stop in 2016 after his vehicle was hit by a motorist who had THC in his blood.

“This legislation aims to make the Commonwealth’s roads safer and save lives, and we are grateful to the Clardy family for offering their family’s name and support for this legislation, which will help us avoid impaired driving incidents in the future,” Baker said in a statement at the time. “This bill will provide law enforcement officers with more rigorous drug detection training and will strengthen the legal process by authorizing the courts to acknowledge that the active ingredient in marijuana can and does impair motorists. The bill draws on thoughtful recommendations from a broad cross-section of stakeholders, and we look forward to working with our legislative colleagues to pass this bill and make our roads safer.”

But the legislation went up in smoke in the Massachusetts legislature earlier this year after some Democratic lawmakers expressed concern over the reliability of the testing devices.

Officials in Virginia are currently considering their own potential mechanisms to rein in the problem of marijuana-impaired driving, after the Commonwealth legalized recreational cannabis use last year, becoming the first state in the U.S. south to do so.

And in New York, which legalized marijuana last year and is currently preparing to open its regulated weed retailers, officials are said to be “scrambling” to find a reliable marijuana DUI test. 

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The Winners of the High Times Cannabis Cup Massachusetts: People’s Choice Edition 2022

A huge congrats to the winners of our High Times Cannabis Cup Massachusetts: People’s Choice Edition 2022 competition.

Voters in Massachusetts passed adult-use cannabis in 2016, and sales began two years later in 2018. Since then, this small but mighty state that is known for being the home of the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower way back in the 17th century, among other things. Hundreds of years later, the commonwealth of Massachusetts has become a bustling cannabis market filled with potential. A recent report found that cannabis is the sixth most valuable crop in the U.S, and is believed to also be the number one agricultural crop in Alaska, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

When sales began in Massachusetts, there were only two licensed retailers. By October 2020, the state had over 80 operating stores, and had collected more than $1 billion in sales and $170 million in tax revenue.

If that data isn’t enough to impress, then we urge you to explore the official winners of the High Times Cannabis Cup Massachusetts: People’s Choice Edition 2022 for yourselves. We announced this cup back in July, and a wide variety of up-and-coming cannabis brands came up to the plate. Everything from delicious edibles, vapes, concentrates, and of course, strains, these winners were chosen by the people—and they’re absolutely worth checking out.

Topicals + Tinctures + Capsules

First Place: Treeworks – Blueberry Entourage Jungle Drops

Courtesy of Treeworks

Second Place: The Fix – Cooling 1:1 Balm

Courtesy of The Fix

Third Place: The Pass – Muscle Gel

Courtesy of The Pass


First Place: Happy Valley – Raspberry Lemonade X-Cell Nano Stir Stix

Courtesy of Happy Valley

Second Place: Vibations – Pomegranate Blueberry Acai Energizing Drink Mix

Courtesy of Vibations

Third Place: Wynk – Juicy Mango Seltzer

Courtesy of Wynk

Chocolate Non-Gummies

First Place: Munchèas by GGG – Chocolate Macarons

Courtesy of Munchèas by GGG

Second Place: Insa – Double Caramel Sea Salt

Courtesy of Insa

Third Place: Meltdown – Key Lime Pie Chocolate Bar

Courtesy to Meltdown

Fruity Non-Gummies

First Place: Smokiez – Sour Watermelon Fruit Chews

Courtesy of Smokies

Second Place: Munchèas by GGG – Infused Honey Sticks

Courtesy of Munchèas by GGG

Third Place: Hi-Burst – Raspberry Lemonade Fruit Chews

Courtesy of Hi-Burst

Indica Gummies

First Place: incredibles – Snoozzzeberry Indica Gummies

Courtesy of incredibles

Second Place: Cannatini – Sour Grape Sangria Indica RSO Gummies

Courtesy of Cannatini

Third Place: Kanha – Passionfruit Paradise Indica Gummies

Courtesy of Kanha

Sativa Gummies

First Place: Happy Valley – Strawberry Lemonade X-Cell Sativa Gummies

Courtesy of Happy Valley

Second Place: Hashables – Watermelon Jolt Solventless Infused Sativa Bites

Courtesy of Hashables

Third Place: Treeworks – Focus Citrus Sativa Hummies

Courtesy of Treeworks

Non-Distillate Vapes

First Place: Sticky Fish – Golden Bough Live Resin Vape

Courtesy of Sticky Fish

Second Place: Origyn – MAC1 Live Rosin Vape

Courtesy of Origyn

Third Place: Treeworks – Cake Crasher Live Rosin Vape

Courtesy of Treeworks

Distillate Vapes

First Place: Church x Pressure Pack – Super Pure Runtz Vape

Courtesy of Church

Second Place: Fernway – Berry Haze Vape

Courtesy of Fernway

Third Place: Rove – Skywalker Vape

Courtesy of Rove


First Place: Treeworks – California Raisins Live Rosin

Courtesy of Treeworks

Second Place: Happy Valley – White Wedding Live Hash Rosin

Courtesy of Happy Valley

Third Place: Garden Remedies – Apple Kugel Live Rosin

Courtesy of Garden Remedies


First Place: Triple M – Triple Monster Infused Pre-Roll

Courtesy of Triple M

Second Place: Southie Adams – Sundaze Dr. Lime #10 Infused Blunt

Courtesy of Southie Adams

Third Place: Happy Valley – End Game Cookies Pre-Roll

Courtesy of Happy Valley

Hybrid Flower

First Place: Happy Valley – End Game Cookies

Courtesy of Happy Valley

Second Place: NETA – Animal Zkittlez

Courtesy of NETA

Third Place: RYTHM – Afternoon Delight #4

Courtesy of RYTHM

Sativa Flower

First Place: Happy Valley – Super Lemon Haze

Courtesy of Happy Valley

Second Place: Bailey’s Buds – Liberty Haze

Courtesy of Bailey’s Buds

Third Place: Nature’s Heritage – Guicy Banger

Courtesy of Nature’s Heritage

Indica Flower

First Place: Northeast Alternatives – Runtz OG

Courtesy of Northeast Alternatives

Second Place: RYTHM – Animal Face

Courtesy of RYTHM

Third Place: Cloud Cover – Katsu Bubba

Courtesy of Cloud Cover

A special shout out to our partners and sponsors!

NETA – Official Intake Partner


AYR Wellness – Presenting Sponsor


Green Gold Group – Silver Sponsor


Happy Valley – Bronze Sponsor


Coast Cannabis Co. – General Sponsor


Berkshire Roots – General Sponsor


The post The Winners of the High Times Cannabis Cup Massachusetts: People’s Choice Edition 2022 appeared first on High Times.

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Acquires Assets To Launch Largest Black-Owned Cannabis Company

Entertainment mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs announced on Friday that he is launching what is billed as the world’s largest Black-owned cannabis brand with the $185 million purchase of existing licensed marijuana operations in three states. Combs is purchasing the business operations from Cresco Labs and Columbia Care, two multistate cannabis operators that are required to divest the assets to complete a previously announced merger of the two companies.

The transaction, if approved by state and federal regulators, would add to Combs’ portfolio of enterprises, which includes ventures in entertainment, media, fashion, and alcohol. Combs, the chairman and CEO of Combs Enterprises, said that he is purchasing the assets to address the inequities of the cannabis industry, where 81% of businesses are white-owned, according to a legislative report released in Maryland this week. 

Many Black entrepreneurs have said that difficulties with financing make it difficult for all but deep-pocketed business owners to succeed in the cannabis industry. The barriers to entering the legal market follow decades of marijuana prohibition that saw Black and Brown people disproportionately arrested and jailed for cannabis-related offenses.

“It’s diabolical,” Combs told the Wall Street Journal. “How do you lock up communities of people, break down their family structure, their futures, and then legalize it and make sure that those same people don’t get a chance to benefit or resurrect their lives from it?”

“My mission has always been to create opportunities for Black entrepreneurs in industries where we’ve traditionally been denied access, and this acquisition provides the immediate scale and impact needed to create a more equitable future in cannabis,” Combs said in a statement. “Owning the entire process — from growing and manufacturing to marketing, retail, and wholesale distribution — is a historic win for the culture that will allow us to empower diverse leaders throughout the ecosystem and be bold advocates for inclusion.”

$185 Million Deal

Under the deal, a new firm controlled by Combs will acquire nine cannabis retail stores and three production facilities in New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts. In return, Combs will pay $110 million in cash and another $45 million in debt financing, plus future payments based on growth benchmarks for a total amount of up to $185 million. Combs said he will leverage the new enterprise to help increase Black participation in the cannabis industry, a goal supported by Cresco CEO Charlie Bachtell.

“For an industry in need of greater diversity of leadership and perspective, the substantial presence of a minority-owned operator in some of the most influential markets in the country being led by one of the most prolific and impactful entrepreneurs of our time is momentous…and incredibly exciting,” Bachtell said in a statement on Friday. “We’re thrilled to welcome Sean and his team to the industry.”

In March, Cresco Labs announced that it would acquire Columbia Care in a $2 billion stock transaction. The merger of the two enterprises forms one of the largest cannabis companies in the United States, with operations in 18 states with legal cannabis including early adopters Colorado and California. But regulations governing the cannabis industry and business licenses require the companies to divest some assets in states where their operations overlap, such as Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio.

Bachtell said that the deal with Combs is bigger than the transaction itself, “and it couldn’t come at a time of greater significance and momentum.”

“We’ve seen executive power exercised to address matters of cannabis injustice, we’re seeing bi-partisan support for elements of federal reform, and we’re seeing some of the largest and most influential states in the country launch cannabis programs prioritizing social responsibility– this announcement adds to that momentum,” Bachtell said. “For Cresco, the transaction is a major step towards closing the Columbia Care acquisition and our leadership position in one of the largest consumer products categories of the future.” 

Largest Black-Owned Cannabis Company

The transaction is Combs’ first venture into the cannabis industry and will create the United States’ first minority-owned and operated, vertically integrated multistate cannabis operator in a sector projected to grow to $72 billion by 2030. The vertically integrated operations in New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts will provide Combs’ new company the ability to grow and manufacture cannabis products, while wholesale and distribution assets will market those branded products to licensed dispensaries in major metropolitan areas including New York City, Boston, and Chicago. The deal also includes retail stores in all three states. 

“These assets offer the Combs’ team significant market presence, enabling them to make the most impact on the industry as a whole,” said Columbia Care CEO and Co-founder, Nicholas Vita. “It’s been clear to us that Sean has the right team to carry on the strong legacy of these Columbia Care and Cresco Labs facilities, and we can’t wait to see how he helps shape the cannabis industry going forward through his entrepreneurial leadership and innovation.”

The deal is subject to several conditions, including regulatory approval, clearance under antitrust rules and the closing of Cresco Labs’ acquisition of Columbia Care. The companies are also in the process of divesting other assets to meet regulatory requirements ahead of the closing of the deal.

The post Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Acquires Assets To Launch Largest Black-Owned Cannabis Company appeared first on High Times.

Creator Explains Patented Process To Extract Cannabinoids From Smoke

Extracting cannabinoids from smoke is now a reality, using a patented extraction method, activating compounds at levels only achieved via smoking. Why? Imagine edibles made with an oil that provides more of the impact you normally only get from smoking.

Boston, Massachusetts-based Real Isolates announced on October 24 that it has been issued a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a novel method used to extract cannabinoids and other compounds—from cannabis smoke. 

The company introduced a new brand as well as two products in oil form: Smokenol Day is a CBD-forward cannabis smoke extract derived from hemp. The THC-rich extracted oil created by this method, on the other hand, is sold, and licensed under the brand name Smokenol, is rich in common and rare cannabinoids and enables a new category of oral, topical, and inhaled cannabis products. Profound Naturals is the brand under which hemp derived Smokenol Day CBD products are sold.

Creator of Smokenol and Vice President and co-founder of Real Isolates Andy Westerkamp explained the concept and products using Real Isolates novel extraction method.

The reasoning behind the new extraction method comes down to common consumer preferences: “Do you prefer edibles or smoking?” Westerkamp asked High Times. “I prefer smoking, my wife prefers smoking, and most of my friends do. If you look at consumer preference surveys, or sales data in the cannabis industry, it’s largely going to show you the same thing—consumer sales are smokeable products, whether it’s flower, concentrates, or you name it. Smoking feels different than edibles.” 

The reason smoking feels different than edibles is that through your lungs, cannabis is metabolized through your liver, transforming THC into 11-hydroxy-THC in your liver. Smoking feels different because of the way compounds are transformed under high heat. In any case, some level of decarboxylation or transformation of the compounds is necessary.

“So basically, to put in perspective, the ember on a joint, or a cherry on a bowl, is probably somewhere between 900 to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit,” Westerkamp said. “That’s really high. The layer burns at 2000 plus degrees Fahrenheit. So when we’re applying that amount of heat to the input material, you’re going to transform everything.”

Courtesy of Smokenol

For Real Isolates’ first experiment, the team took 99%+ pure CBD isolate, burned it in a dab rig and sent it through a special filter, allowing them to extract 18 different cannabinoids. 

“Every single one of those cannabinoids in the input material is 100% in the plant, or you know, a variety in your concentrate of choice—those are going to transform significantly before you inhale,” Westerkamp said. “So essentially, when you’re smoking, you’re consuming a completely different chemical product than when you eat a traditional edible or extract. So for us, we designed a special filter that we call ‘the lung’ internally.”

Given that millions of people are unable to smoke due to chronic respiratory conditions and so forth, this method allows them to feel some of the effects.

Westerkamp said they designated this filter “to selectively capture those compounds out of the smoke, so that we can deliver them in different formats like specifically edibles, but edible tinctures, topicals, suppositories, vapes, you name it. So we can take that profile, that chemical fingerprint that you would only get from smoking, and now put it into other things. And our trademark there is, you know, our slogan is ‘We smoked it for you,’ which is literally what we’re doing.”

You don’t necessarily have to decide between edibles or similar effects compared to smoking. If you’re curious about learning more about Real Isolates unique extraction method and products, visit the website.

The post Creator Explains Patented Process To Extract Cannabinoids From Smoke appeared first on High Times.