Nevada Lawmakers Introduce Psilocybin, MDMA Research Bill

A pair of Democratic state senators in Nevada introduced a bill last week to allow for research into psilocybin, or psychedelic mushrooms, as well as MDMA, drawing inspiration from states like Oregon and Colorado where such substances have been legalized.

The proposal, per the measure’s official legislative summary, would establish “procedures for a research facility to obtain the approval of the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct certain studies involving certain controlled substances; decriminalizing certain conduct by persons who are 18 years of age or older involving psilocybin and MDMA if conducted in connection with and within the scope of an approved study; decriminalizing certain conduct by persons who are 18 years of age or older involving 4 ounces or less of fungi that produces psilocybin or psilocin; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”

In more plain English, per the Las Vegas Sun, it would “decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and MDMA for the purpose of studying their effects on an array of behavioral health disorders” and “allow the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services to begin accepting applications from research institutions to use the drugs to treat conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and addiction.”

The bill was introduced by Democratic state Sens. Rochelle Nguyen and Fabian Donate, both of whom represent Las Vegas. 

The bill also has two co-sponsors in the state House of Representatives: Max Carter and Elaine Marzola, also both Democrats. 

Las Vegas Weekly reported last fall that Nguyen had “filed a draft request for the 2023 Legislative Session for a bill that ‘revises provisions governing controlled substances’ and deals with matters of decriminalization, regulation and research on psychedelics,” and she said at the time “that it could potentially help with the growing mental health crisis.”

Psychedelics like mushrooms and MDMA have emerged as a new focal point for drug reform advocates, with scientists and medical professionals increasingly drawn to their potential therapeutic benefits. 

Las Vegas Weekly reported that Nguyen specifically highlighted the example of Oregon, which legalized psilocybin in 2020. 

Late last year, the Oregon Health Authority finalized rules for the new psilocybin law, with special consideration for access, affordability, and public safety.

“The final rules on duration of administrative sessions have been revised to create a new tier for subperceptual doses. These doses are defined as products containing less than 2.5 mg of psilocybin analyte. After a client’s initial session, the minimum duration for a subperceptual dose of 2.5 mg of psilocybin analyte or less is 30 minutes,” the Oregon Health Authority said at the time.

Last year, voters in Colorado approved a measure legalizing psilocybin. 

That might have sparked a trend in the mountain west region. In addition to last week’s proposal in Nevada, activists in Utah have likewise mounted an effort to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for medical purposes. 

Luz Escamilla, the Democratic leader in the Utah state senate, introduced a bill last month that would allow individuals aged 21 and older with qualifying conditions such as depression or anxiety access to a psilocybin-assisted treatment directly from a psilocybin therapy provider. 

“Cannabis has given us a really good opportunity to understand that we can use other natural things … to help us. Now, we have to be careful, and I think we have really good safeguards,” Escamilla said.

“This is not a free-for-all,” Escamilla added. “This is not for everyone, but if it’s for someone that is desperate (for help) with their anxiety, depression and PTSD—that’s pushing many, unfortunately, to suicide, I want them to have access in a way that’s safe, that we can regulate.”

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Vegas Weed Advocates Call for Easing of Distance Buffers for Cannabis Businesses

Cannabis advocates and business owners in Las Vegas are calling on city leaders to ease distance requirements between weed businesses, saying the move would foster the development of a cannabis district similar to Amsterdam. At a meeting of the Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday, entrepreneurs also called for a reduction in the fees for cannabis business licenses, arguing that the high costs are an unreasonable “roadblock” to starting a new enterprise.

The city council was considering a proposed ordinance to regulate cannabis consumption lounges, which are businesses that offer cannabis for patrons to purchase and consume on the premises. In September, the council cleared the way for cannabis lounges to open in Las Vegas with a 5-1 vote against a motion that would have prevented the businesses from opening in the city.

At Wednesday’s meeting, several cannabis industry advocates and business leaders addressed the council, telling members that regulations that require licensed cannabis businesses to be located at least 1,000 feet away from each other make it difficult for entrepreneurs to secure a compliant property.

“It is absolutely unreasonable to make somebody walk more than three football fields to the next bar, restaurant, shops or casinos,” Tina Ulman, president and founder of the Chamber of Cannabis, said at the city council meeting on Wednesday. “Why would we ever want them to do that for consumption venues?”

Five licensed cannabis dispensaries in Las Vegas have plans to open cannabis consumption lounges as part of their businesses. Another 10 businesses are expected to operate consumption lounges independent of a dispensary, including seven social equity applicants who were negatively impacted by marijuana prohibition prior to the legalization of cannabis in Nevada in 2016.

The proposed ordinance allows the city to waive the distance requirement between consumption lounges, although not in some parts of the city including the Symphony Park District, the Las Vegas Medical District or the casino-resort district.

Dani Baranowski, vice president of the industry group Chamber of Cannabis, said that the distance requirement forces applicants to “find expensive, out of the way, and non-profitable locations that will be hard pressed to get business.”

Business leaders told the city council that if the distance requirements are eliminated or relaxed, the downtown Arts District could become a “New Amsterdam,” serving as a destination for cannabis tourism that could draw visitors from around the world. They also noted that allowing consumption lounges and other cannabis businesses to locate closer together would encourage walking and eliminate the temptation to drive while high, benefitting public safety.

“The proposed measures have established unnecessary and harmful distance restrictions between lounges and excessively high licensing fees compared to other businesses,” said Chandler Cooks, who has been awarded a provisional social equity consumption lounge license.

Business Leaders Call For Lower Licensing Fees in Las Vegas

Other business owners agreed with Cooks and called for a reduction in license fees for cannabis consumption lounges. The proposed ordinance includes a one-time business license fee of $10,000, with social equity applicants paying a reduced fee of $2,500. Lounges will also be required to pay additional semiannual license fees based on their earnings.

“Adding these high fees will only add to the insane amount of capital they have to raise” to start their businesses, said Ulman.

Baranowski said that the high licensing fees could put up “further roadblocks” to success and discourage applicants who are having trouble raising the capital needed to get their businesses up and running. Paul Murad, president of Metroplex Group, a real estate company that owns businesses in the Arts District, said that he is looking forward to working with the city council on a number of issues relevant to cannabis businesses, including reducing the costs of business licenses.

“We’re asking for the licensing fees and ongoing license fees to be significantly reduced,” said Murad. “So they’re on par with other businesses … They need to be at the same level, not excessive just because they happen to be cannabis.”

After hearing from the business leaders, the city council postponed a vote on the proposed cannabis consumption lounge ordinance and rescheduled the agenda item for its meeting on March 1. Business leaders said they hoped to use the next two weeks to work with the city council to draft an ordinance that Murad said could set up Las Vegas as “a role model for other municipalities to follow.”

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Nevada Releases Bulletin for Products Affected by Unapproved Pesticide

The Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) recently issued a public health and safety bulletin on Jan. 19 regarding the use of an unapproved pesticide. “The CCB was notified that the following cannabis and cannabis products had been treated with an unapproved pesticide, Ethephon, at Clark Natural Medicinal Solutions, LLC,” the CCB explained in its bulletin.

Currently, there are no illnesses reported, according to the bulletin.

The pesticide was applied sometime between July 23, 2021 and Jan. 5, 2023, and the CCB instructs consumers to check the labels of the cannabis they purchased (which includes flower, shake or trim, and pre-rolls). “All cannabis products properly sold by a licensed cannabis sales facility should have a product label on the packaging,” the CCB wrote. “The name of the cultivation facility which grew the cannabis and the harvest date can be found on the label, typically near the top.”

The CCB also put together a list of products that may have been affected by the pesticide, including more than 117 edibles, 41 infused pre-rolls, and more than 200 concentrates, sold at 104 dispensaries.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ethephon was discovered in 1965 and registered as a pesticide in 1973. “Ethephon is a plant growth regulator used to promote fruit ripening, abscission, flower induction, and other responses,” the EPA states. “Ethephon is registered for use on a number of food, feed and nonfood crops, greenhouse nursery stock, and outdoor residential ornamental plants, but is used primarily on cotton. Formulations include formulation intermediates and soluble concentrates/liquids.”

The EPA also states that Ethephon can potentially cause severe skin and eye irritation “but otherwise is “moderately acutely toxic.”

The CCB also stated that testing facilities do not currently test for Ethephon specifically. “There is no reason to believe the cannabis sales facilities or cannabis testing facilities had any knowledge of the use of this unapproved pesticide; Ethephon is not on the list of pesticides the testing facilities must look for, and their test methods are not set up for detection of Ethephon.”

According to the Nevada Department of Agriculture, updated as of August 2022, there are 86 pesticides that are not legally prohibited to be used on cannabis plants. This varies from minimum risk ingredients such as cinnamon, garlic oil, or zinc metal strips to registered pesticides, such as myclobutanil, where “tolerance is monitored.”

Previously, the CCB has only issued a few safety bulletins such as this one. One bulletin was issued in 2020, which addressed failed microbial testing. Three were issued in 2021, involving more failed microbial testing, incorrect THC potency testing, and products that were unable to be verified as tested. Two bulletins were issued in 2022, pertaining to unverifiable testing and mislabeled products.

In addition to these bulletins, the CCB awarded the final licenses for consumption lounges in Nevada in December 2022, half of which were designated for social equity applicants. Funding for consumption lounges were initially approved in August 2021, with regulations approved by legislators in June 2022, such as safety protocols, staff training, and location restrictions. Now, consumption lounges are “likely to open before Summer 2023,” states the CCB.

One judge issued a ruling last year asking that cannabis be removed from the Schedule 1 category of the Controlled Substances Act. In September 2022, Judge Joe Hardy ordered the Nevada Board of Pharmacy to remove cannabis from its current schedule designation, because cannabis has been recognized in the Nevada constitution as having medical value. “The constitutional right to use marijuana upon the advice of a physician does establish that marijuana has an accepted medical use and treatment in the United States,” said Hardy.

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ACLU of Nevada Sues Board for Classifying Cannabis Under Schedule 1

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nevada isn’t accepting the Nevada Board of Pharmacy’s classification of cannabis: Despite legal cannabis for adults 21 and over in Nevada, the Board of Pharmacy continues to list cannabis as a schedule 1 substance—having no medical value.

A back-and-forth legal saga ensued, beginning earlier this year, when the ACLU of Nevada filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Cannabis Equity Inclusion Community (CEIC) and a man named Antoine Poole. The case, CEIC v. Nevada Board of Pharmacy, was first filed last April in Clark County court—saying the classification of cannabis defies the Nevada Constitution.

The CEIC is a nonprofit organization focused on policies that will make opportunities real and attainable for communities and people impacted by the War on Drugs. Poole was convicted of felony possession of a controlled substance for possessing cannabis—after it was legalized both for medical and recreational uses.

West Juhl is Director of Communications and Campaigns for the ACLU of Nevada, and believes the Board’s classification of cannabis is incongruent with the Nevada Constitution.

“It’s wrong as a matter of law, because our state Constitution specifically names a number of medical uses for cannabis,” Juhl told High Times. “The district court’s ruling was very clear in confirming this. I think it’s also wrong as a matter of commonsense. The people of Nevada have made it very clear that we want to regulate cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol and to move away from old, obsolete ideas about marijuana from the failed War on Drugs.”

In Nevada, the discord between the state’s Constitution and the Board’s policy mirrors the general discord between state and federal law in states with legal cannabis.

ACLU of Nevada Lawsuit Goes Through Appeal Process

The suit was met with pushback after gaining steam. Last November, Clark County District Court Judge Joe Hardy sided with the ACLU of Nevada ruling that classifying cannabis as a schedule 1 drug in Nevada is unconstitutional. Then the Nevada Board of Pharmacy appealed that District Court ruling shortly after. 

Despite the appeals process, the ACLU of Nevada held their ground. “Despite Nevada voters’ approval of laws to legalize cannabis possession for medical and recreational use in 1998 and 2016, respectively, the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy has failed to honor the Nevada Constitution, Nevada Revised Statutes, and the will of Nevada voters,” the ACLU Nevada said in a press release.

“The idea that the Board of Pharmacy is fighting this, I think is legally ridiculous. There is no basis for it,” Matthew Hoffmann, Partner at Battle Born Injury Lawyers, told FOX5, explaining that the Nevada Constitution was amended in 1998—explicitly stating that cannabis has medical purposes.

Placing cannabis on schedule 1—as the federal government does—essentially means that the Board believes cannabis has more risk than fentanyl and other schedule II drugs. Hoffman said that the federal classification has no bearing on what a state agency does.

“It has been a loophole that has been leading to criminal arrests and convictions over the course of the last two decades,” Athar Haseebullah, Executive Director of the ACLU of Nevada, told FOX5. “Fentanyl is listed as a schedule 2 substance, methamphetamine and cocaine are listed as schedule 2 substances because according to the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy, cannabis appears to be of more risk than those substances,” Haseebullah said.

ACLU Chapters Active in Multiple States

In 2019, the ACLU of Pennsylvania sued Pennsylvania’s Lebanon County to allow parolees and probationers to consume cannabis. Despite legalizing medical cannabis in the state, Lebanon County originally chose to disregard state law.

Also in 2019, the ACLU of Arizona targeted the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. The ACLU sent a letter to Maricopa County Attorney General Bill Montgomery demanding his office no longer prosecute medical cannabis patients. The ACLU also demanded that Montgomery stop issuing threats to patients. Previously, Montgomery prosecuted and threatened licensed medical cannabis patients for possessing cannabis products sold at state-licensed dispensaries. 

ACLU of Nevada’s lawsuit against the Nevada Board of Pharmacy remains ongoing.

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Nevada Medical Pot Patients Can Sue Former Employer If Fired, Court Rules

If you’re a medical cannabis patient in Nevada, smoke up: medical cannabis patients in the state were recently empowered to consume cannabis on their own time after a landmark decision in court.

On December 1, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that employees in the state have the right to sue their former employees if they were terminated for consuming cannabis off the clock. Keep in mind, however, that adult-use cannabis consumers in the state aren’t exactly provided the same protections.

The ruling dates back three years, when Jim Roushkolb filed the lawsuit in the Eighth District Court in November 2019.

“It relaxes me,” Roushkolb told FOX affiliate KTNV, who suffers from PTSD and numerous other conditions. In 1995, Roushkolb was severely attacked when a former inmate assaulted him in his car as a corrections officer in Ohio.

“He opened the door, and he grabbed me, and he just hit me in the head with a pipe,” he said, “and just started beating me in the head, and he took his thumb and jammed it in my eye like that and tore my retina.”

Roushkolb used cannabis to ease PTSD symptoms and anxiety, but then in 2018, his employer, Freeman Expositions LLC, fired him on the spot after he tested positive for THC, which he was taking legally as a medical cannabis patient in Nevada.

His attorney Christian Gabroy immediately recognized a clear-cut case. 

“The company acted discriminatory, this company violated his rights, and this multi-jurisdictional, multi-million dollar company, they terminated him in violation of Nevada law,” Gabroy said.

Not the Same For Adult-Use in Nevada

Recreational cannabis smokers in Nevada might not get the same outcome in court. NORML pointed out last September that recreational cannabis consumers and patients are subject to a different set of parameters.

Nevada law limits employers from punishing workers who are enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis access program. Furthermore, a 2019 law makes it “unlawful for any employer in [Nevada] to fail or refuse to hire a prospective employee because the prospective employee submitted to a screening test and the results of the screening test indicate the presence of marijuana.” 

But good luck fighting it in court if you’re fired for a drug test. As it turns out—there’s plenty of legal precedent on the matter: Just last August, the Nevada Supreme Court denied a similar lawsuit for an employee fired for testing positive for THC.

The Nevada Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss a complaint by an employee who was fired for testing positive for THC for a routine test after getting in an accident.  

In the case of Ceballos v. NP Palace, LLC, the employee said that the positive THC result was due to his use of recreational cannabis at home, and that he was not intoxicated or impaired at work, complying with state law. 

Nevada law under NRS 613.333(1) makes it unlawful for employers to “[d]ischarge . . . any employee . . . because the employee engage[d] in the lawful use in this state of any product outside the premises of the employer during the employee’s nonworking hours” so long as “that use does not adversely affect the employee’s ability to perform his or her job or the safety of other employees.”

However, Nevada judges ruled that federal law—and the federal status of cannabis—also applies in that clause, and the plaintiff’s complaint was denied. A similar decision was reached by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2015. Using this logic, however, medical cannabis would also be illegal under federal law.

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Nevada Officials Award Final 20 Licenses for Cannabis Lounges

State officials in Nevada have announced the final 20 applicants who will receive licenses authorizing them to run cannabis consumption lounges.

The Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board conducted a digital drawing on Wednesday “via a random number selector to determine the issuance of independent cannabis consumption lounge licenses for non-social equity applicants and social equity applicants,” the agency said.

State law opened the door for the board to “issue 20 independent cannabis consumption lounge licenses, half of which (10) are designated for social equity applicants.”

The board has said that the lounges are expected to open next year. 

On Wednesday, the regulatory board announced the following social equity applicants will receive licenses to open a lounge where cannabis consumption is allowed: NV Cloud 420 Lounge LLC (City of Las Vegas); GGCPA SE Inc (Nye County); MEDSnSIN (City of Las Vegas);

Sunflower Compassionate Company (City of Las Vegas); Lyxe Consulting LLC (City of Las Vegas); Greenwood Investment Group, LLC (City of Las Vegas); N&D Enterprises LLP (City of Las Vegas); City Lights Production LLC (Unincorporated Clark County); Royal Tree TLC LLC (City of Las Vegas); and GGCPA SE 3 Inc (Unincorporated Clark County).

The following non-social equity applicants were also selected via the random draw: FCWC Operations LLC (City of Las Vegas); Shanghai Lounge LLC (Unincorporated Clark County); Higher*Archy LLC (City of Las Vegas); The Limo Joint LLC (Unincorporated Clark County);

KV Group, LLV (Nye County); The Standard Lounge, LLC (Unincorporated Clark County); La Lounge LLC (Unincorporated Clark County); Cafecito SW LLC (Unincorporated Clark County)

Las Vegas Cannabis Industry Leaders (City of Las Vegas); and Rolling Cloudz LLC (Unincorporated Clark County).

Lawmakers in Nevada last year signed off on funding for the Cannabis Compliance Board to hire the necessary staff and support in order to implement the framework for the consumption lounges.

In June, the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board signed off on the final round of regulations for the consumption lounges.

“In addition to outlining the licensing and operation of consumption lounges, regulations approved today lay the groundwork for greater inclusion within Nevada’s cannabis industry,” the board said in the press release at the time. “All applicants must submit a diversity plan, summarizing actionable steps and goals for meaningful inclusion. Additionally, half of the independent consumption lounge licenses in the initial round must be awarded to social equity applicants.”

“Prior to an open licensing period, the [Cannabis Compliance Board] plans to roll out tools and resources including worksheets, video tutorials and live webinars in order to ensure interested parties have access to the same information and are able to successfully submit an application,” the release continued. “The CCB expects to open the first licensing round for consumption lounges in the Fall, allowing for the first consumption lounges to open as early as the end of the year.”

Local television station KTNV reported that a “handful of applicants gathered at Mariposa Restaurant [in Las Vegas on Wednesday] to watch the virtual drawings unfold.”

Tyler Kilmas, the executive director of the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board, told the station what now awaits the selected applicants. 

“We will do sit down interviews and make sure we understand their ownership structure and their business plan and then they will come in front of the board and the board will determine them suitable or not to proceed to perfecting their license,” says Kilmas.

According to the station, “the state opened an application period [in October], and in total 99 applications for a license were submitted.”

Voters in Nevada approved a ballot measure in 2016 that legalized recreational cannabis use in the state. 

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Top Cannabis CEOs, Other Leaders Network in Las Vegas

The second annual Lemonhaze Invitational is more than just a golf outing; it’s a chance for influential cannabis executives to build relationships in the industry during an informal and fun setting that can’t be duplicated at the MJBizCon in Las Vegas in days afterward.

This year’s event was again hosted at Cascata Golf Club in Boulder City just outside Las Vegas by Lemonhaze, the Southern Nevada-based B2B cannabis convention and events company headed by CEO Brian Yauger. It hosts high-end boutique events and regional golf outings across the country targeting segments of the cannabis industry.

The Vegas tournament is by invitation only for executives of major nationals in the cannabis industry and C-suite and other top executives for privately-owned companies valued at more than $40 million. It’s branded as the largest collection of the most powerful decision makers in adult-use cannabis in one place at one time and all on the golf course and mixers associated with it. There were some 70 invitees that attended and tee times allocated as well to about 40 sponsors, with food and drinks served throughout the day. Limousine buses transported them 25 miles from the famous Las Vegas Strip.

“It’s the ultimate networking event,” says Yauger, a former college football assistant coach. “This is a chance for all of these people of the most powerful companies in the country to get together and spend time together. The sponsors want to get their product and wares in front of the decision makers at all these multi-million-dollar companies.”

Companies have the same investor challenges, customer challenges and media challenges. And there are sometimes licensing deals that come out of these get-togethers, he says.

This year’s event generated a lot of excitement among the participants.

David Rula, COO of GoldLeaf Print & Packaging, said this is his second consecutive year participating in the Lemonhaze Invitational tournament. He called it smart timing by being held at the same time at MJBizCon and credited Yauger and his staff for doing a great job of organizing leaders in the cannabis space.

“It’s filled with owners, presidents, CEOs, CMOs, COOs—nothing but C-suite people,” Rula said. “It’s a peer-to-peer group of management teams to have good discussions and see the trends in the industry and just talk about how we can push the cannabis space forward.”

Rula, who’s from Mississippi and Alabama, said it’s like duck hunting to him. It’s one of the best ways to get to know people by spending four hours with them.

“It’s unlike a conference environment where it’s madness like a horde of bees running around,” Rula says. “You don’t get to know anybody, but the Lemonhaze events enable you to get to know somebody and build more of a longer lasting relationship. It’s good food, good entertainment and good company.”

Phil Hon, vice president of Southern California-based ROVE, said the tournament helps with relationship building and their expansion into new states.

“We’re currently in seven states, and Lemonhaze has these tournaments in other states and we get to meet the industry folks there,” Hon said. “Cannabis is a small network, and when you have something like this with upper management in these tournaments, it makes things easier.”

ROVE President Paul Jacobson said a lot of other events are too intense about cannabis or too much of a party atmosphere, and that makes it difficult to have a normal conversation.

“With the Lemonhaze events, the focus is on golf so when you’re out on the course, you spend an extended amount of time with people you might not normally have the opportunity to spend time with,” Jacobson said. “It’s a different and advantageous atmosphere to have meaningful discussions with people.”

Chris Holston, finance director for Cookies, said the tournament allows his company to come in contact with brands and suppliers. He said it’s nice to talk to people within the industry to see what business conditions they are experiencing and make comparisons.

Charmaine Chua, senior vice president sales/field marketing for Stiiizy, said she loves how the Lemonhaze Invitational allows her to meet with her customers, talk and enjoy the day.

“I also like to see all the new companies coming up with new services and technologies that my company could benefit from,” Chua said.

Karen Torres, chief product officer at MedMen, said she was excited to play with Chua, a brand partner of her company for product sales in their stores.

“I think it’s important for us to show up and represent the cannabis industry as a solid industry and real industry in business,” Torres said. “Events like this allow us to all get together and be thought leaders and create partnerships and a stronger foundation for this industry.”

Legendary NFL running back Ricky Williams, who launched his own cannabis brand Highsman, said while a lot of people know who he is, he doesn’t know a lot of people. The golf outing helps with that.

“It’s a great opportunity to make contact and find quality potential partners,” Williams says. “Last year, we were on the bus here and across from the CEO of TILT, and we ended up doing a deal in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. The conversation got started here.”

Tom Schneider, chief marketing officer for RevBrands, said networking is invaluable, and Yauger brings in top executives that they meet and do deals with.

“It’s pretty valuable for us,” Schneider said.

Erin Gore, founder of Garden Society, said the golf outing is important networking since they’re expanding into new markets. They’re meeting with MSO and brand partners and others who they don’t get to spend a lot of face-to-face time with, she added.

Jeff Dayton, vice president of strategy for TRP Co., said the Lemonhaze Invitational offers a chance to talk with thought leaders in the cannabis space. This was his first year at the event.

“I think face-to-face interaction is key to doing business,” Dayton said. “I believe COVID made people realize there are stop gaps and ways to communicate virtually, but there’s no replacement for in-person interaction, shaking someone’s hand, looking in someone’s eyes and knowing more about the person you are doing business with. Events such as this allow those relationships to start, be nurtured and flourish.”

David Murray, CEO of Redbud Roots, says seeing what other people are doing in the industry is important and the event helps with that. It’s a growing industry and people are “trying to be sponges and students of the game.”

Lemonhaze has held more than 30 various types of events in 2022 and expects to grow that number in 2023 to more than 70, Yauger said. For a company that launched in Seattle in 2015 and initially known for its Budtender parties, there will be more of a focus east of the Mississippi River.

“We’re focusing on New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio and Pennsylvania,” Yauger says. “In the next two to three years, you’ll start to see more happening in Mississippi, Alabama and North Carolina. I’m really excited about those markets.”

Penny Cook, Lemonhaze COO, said the value of their events is “incredibly high” as the market is new and developing.

“We bring industry growth with us,” Cook says. “That’s what we are here for. Our events are all about connecting the right people in the industry. We curate who’s going to be here so the people meeting each other are of high value. We see an exorbitant amount of deals that come out of our executive events, and we see brands present at our Budtender events have higher sales. There’s a clear ROI for every one of our sponsors that do Lemonhaze events because they’re connecting with people in high numbers—their target audience that they wouldn’t be able to connect on their own, let alone for the spend that they have to be there.”

Normally, in the events industry, people worry about how many tickets they can sell, but Yauger says their model isn’t selling tickets but sponsors wanting to pay a premium to be in the room.

“Another huge value point that we have is we’re hyper local,” she says. “What’s going on in the cannabis industry in Massachusetts right now is really different from what’s going on in Southern California. Because we have the right audiences in each one of these localities, these national companies are able to come in and get feedback directly from the people on the ground in those markets to address that and spend their sales and marketing dollars in a more targeted way.”

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In Conversation with Skateboarder Braydon Szafranski

Braydon Szafranski’s first skateboarding experience at age seven resulted in 30 head staples, a traumatized teenage babysitter, and a confiscated board by Mom. Where most would consider that the culmination of their skateboarding endeavors, it was simply the start for young Szafranski, unphased by the whole ordeal.

Ten years later, he fled his hometown of Las Vegas to settle in the arguable industry mecca of skateboarding, Los Angeles. By a stroke of fate, he ran into Chad Muska, one of skateboarding’s biggest talents and personalities, in front of Brooklyn Projects skate shop on Melrose Avenue. Having mutual friends from Sin City, the pair struck up a conversation, which led to watching a footage tape that Szafranski had with him. Blown away after seeing the first trick, Muska sponsored him on the spot. From that point on, Szafranski’s career took off, eventually earning himself coveted spots on the Baker skateboards and Emerica footwear teams before turning professional in 2006.

As much as skateboarding is integral to Szafranski’s existence, so is the same with marijuana. Since the early days of his career, he has been a steadfast proponent of the plant, as is most evident in the introduction of his Baker 3 video part. In our interview, we discuss how legalization has changed Nevada, the secret to achieving Zen-like clarity while trying a trick, and why the skateboarding culture has always been so closely associated with weed.

Photo by Sam Muller

Do you remember the first time you smoked weed?

In school I remember that the D.A.R.E program affected people differently. There was a cop there explaining marijuana, that it’s the “gateway drug” that “changes you and makes your personality crazy.” I remember my neighbor—my best friend since age three—and I looked at each other and we were like, Oh my god, we need to try this!

My neighbor’s older sister, who was in high school, was having a party. She came over, grabbed me, and said, “Hey, I want you to come to the side of the house with me.” Of course it was two high school dudes who were smoking her out and asked if we wanted to hit it. We both smoked and realized, Wait a minute, this isn’t anything like what the cop said—this is very mellow and casual and we don’t feel like psychos! We’ve literally been smoking ever since.

In previous interviews you mentioned that you and your dad have weed tattoos. How did those come about?

My dad knew that I smoked since I was younger, but he wouldn’t talk about it or anything because [he] was just smarter than that. When I turned 18, he came over and gave me a 12-pack of beer and an eighth of weed. He said, “If you are old enough to die for this country you are old enough to do either of these in this country—fuck what they say.”

The next thing that came out of his mouth was: “But if it was up to me, I would throw away that 12-pack and smoke this the rest of your life. I’ve never heard of anyone smoking a joint and doing a mass murder, but I see drunk people doing dumb shit every day,” he said.

He then offered to buy me a tattoo. He wanted to get some weed leaves with some handcuffs, so we both got that, with “Legalize” underneath. He always made this joke that if it ever became legal that we would add the “D.”

He never registered to vote in his life, but when legalization was on the ballet, we both registered and voted. When it passed and weed became legal, we went to a tattoo parlor the same day and added the “D.” He was jumping up and down, screaming, “It’s fucking legal!”

Photo by Sam Muller

Nevada is coming up on six years of being marijuana-friendly. How has Las Vegas, as a microcosm of the state, changed since then?

To tell you the truth, it’s something that should have happened a long time ago out here. People come to Vegas to experience all of their desires—everything they can’t do in their normal day-to-day life.

I don’t think that it’s changed; I just think that no one is paranoid anymore. If you have an ounce in the trunk of your car and it doesn’t reek, you can drive to a friend’s house without looking over your shoulder, thinking that it could be the end of everything.

I think the original argument is that people would be going crazy if weed was legalized; but clearly it’s not like that.

If anything, it calmed down the city. I’ve talked about it with people that have law enforcement in their families that have said that since it became legal, the amount of DUIs and DUI deaths have gone down because more people are smoking. Think about all those people that were super shitfaced, wasted, but instead took two hits from a joint and thought, Ah, I’m just gonna sit on the couch tonight. I don’t even care about going out. 

How, if at all, has smoking helped your skating?

It 1000% helps. Anyone that knows skateboarding understands that it’s as much, if not more, of a mental game than it is a physical one. The mental game is the strongest part of skateboarding, the hardest part. 

I think Jon Miner [Emerica footwear videographer] explained it perfectly to me. He said, “Your ADHD would always get a hold of you, where you would get close on the first try, but then get so excited and mentally in your head that you might try the trick for four hours and not make it.”

If I’m in the middle of trying a trick [that is becoming a battle], and I take a hit or two, all of sudden my mind goes from What was I losing? to What can I gain? I instantly focus in: Okay, slow it down. You know what you are doing. You know how to make this happen. You wouldn’t be trying this if it wasn’t for you knowing that you can do this. And within a try or two I usually ride away. It has everything to do with not just taking that approach from the beginning. 

It seems like what you are describing is something involving being present, almost a Zen state. 

I think a lot of people who use it as medicine in the right way can get into a Zen moment and it can honestly change your perspective of what you are doing through skating, and a lot of different things, as a whole.

Why is skateboarding and weed so closely associated with each other?

I think that weed is in every culture. However, skateboarders, before this new era, were bandits. Everything came from an outlaw perspective. Skateboarding, from the beginning, is a crime. It should always be an outlawed thing because, you know, it’s what we do. We do the funnest things in places that you are not supposed to, and that’s what makes it so spectacular.

Despite weed being considered an outlaw thing in the past, most skaters weren’t scared to hide it. Athletes in any category that wanted to be in the Olympics were scared of blowing sponsors if they got caught, even though they smoked weed in their off time! Skateboarding didn’t have drug testing and not being able to be on a team if you smoke. Skateboarding is about being who you are. I think that’s why skaters have shown the world that we smoke weed and can be open about it.

Photo by Sam Muller

You mentioned the Olympics. What are your thoughts on skateboarding being involved since Tokyo 2020?

I don’t care. Just like Jake Phelps (RIP) said, “One week every four years, and then it’s done and no one seems to give a shit again until the next four years.”

It’s the same fifteen, elite skaters that actually care over the millions of skateboarders that are out there. If you want to be part of that world, that’s awesome. I think that it’s wonderful that it’s going to be in the Olympics if that’s what skateboarding wants to be. I’m still not, to this day, going to say if skateboarding is a sport whether it is or isn’t considered one now. It’s still always what it was to me.

What are you most interested in these days?

Skateboarding. I still try to get out as much as I can. I’ve broken every bone in my body so many times, so it’s whatever. I’m 39 years old, so when I’m not sore from the last session, it’s time to get back out there.

Now I have days in between skating when I’m sore as shit, so I started thinking about other things that inspired me in my life. I always loved art, drawing, and tattoos. It fell into my lap when a friend who had a shop said, “Why don’t you just start apprenticing under me?” I thought it sounded fun. Now it’s become an addiction, just like skating. It can be nerve-racking to think, If I fuck up, this is something that is there for this person’s life. I get this same feeling of rush when I am tattooing that I do when I’m doing anything else. 

Besides that, my interests include painting, side projects, and woodshop stuff. Anything that can keep me moving and going forward.

Now for the most important question of the interview: Does weed save lives?

Weed does save lives. I’ve been saying this since the beginning of time and now the fucking world is starting to see it.

How many times have you talked about that with skaters?

It doesn’t matter what country, city, restaurant, or whatever. If a skater recognizes me, it’s always, “Weed saves lives! All right, Braydon, woo!”

Follow along with Braydon’s skateboarding and tattooing here.

The post In Conversation with Skateboarder Braydon Szafranski appeared first on High Times.

High Times To Bring Biz Bash Back to Las Vegas for MJBizCon 2022

High Times will bring together buds, business, and bowling at this year’s Biz Bash 4.0, an official after-party for MJBizCon to be held at the Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas later this month. With a special performance by Redman & Method Man, this year’s event promises a night of music, partying, and fun for those attending the cannabis industry’s biggest trade show.

Billed as “the most anticipated after party during MJBizCon week,” the High Times Biz Bash 4.0 is sponsored by Zig-Zag, the iconic rolling paper brand that has helped stoners stay high for decades. The event will feature a brand activation by LED grow light leader Spectrum King and a special welcome by UltraTrimmer, a manufacturer of state-of-the-art bud trimmers for commercial cannabis growers.

High Times plans to pack the Brooklyn Bowl with fun for the anticipated 1,500 party-goers, who are promised a night of networking, bowling, and musical performances. Mark Kazinec, High Times director of competitions and events, said that this year’s event will be one of the highlights of the cannabis industry’s annual gathering in Las Vegas.

“We’re thrilled to bring back the High Times Biz Bash as an official afterparty of MJ Biz Con. We have Method Man & Redman performing which will fill our event with cannabis enthusiasts from all walks of life to bowl, eat, drink and be merry,” said Kazinec. “We’ll find top cannabis executives, retail buyers, brand marketers, and the heady crowd that’s sure to be rolling up donuts outside. We always fill up the venue, so get yourself a guaranteed bowling lane or get there early, otherwise stand outside wishing you did!”

MJBizCon is the cannabis industry’s premier trade show, bringing together brands, professionals, investors, and other members of the cannabis industry each year just steps away from the infamous Las Vegas Strip. This year’s conference includes a keynote address from hip hop icon and cannabis mogul Berner, co-founder and CEO of the Cookies cannabis and lifestyle brand. Chris Walsh, CEO of MJBiz, will also deliver his traditional “State of the Industry and Predictions for 2023” address on Wednesday, November 16. Other notable speakers for 2022’s event include Nancy Whiteman, co-founder and CEO of cannabis edibles company Wana Brands; Peter Caldini, CEO of Acreage Holdings; Toi Hutchinson, president and CEO of the Marijuana Policy Project; and Troy Datcher, CEO of The Parent Company.

“MJBizCon is a great place to collectively support each other and the industry as we look to brighter days ahead. We will capitalize on emerging opportunities, learn from new powerhouse states like New York and New Jersey, and build on momentum coming out of federal changes to come,” Walsh said in a statement on this year’s event. 

Founded in 1974, High Times has grown from an underground magazine exploring marijuana and its surrounding culture into a global brand with a leading print, digital, and multimedia presence in the evolving cannabis industry.

The High Times Biz Bash 4.0 will be held from 8:00 p.m. to midnight on Thursday, November 17 at the Brooklyn Bowl in The Linq Promenade, 3545 South Las Vegas Boulevard in Las Vegas. Tickets are available from Eventbrite. MJBizCon 2022 kicks off on Tuesday, November 15 and wraps up on Friday, November 18 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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Nevada Judge Orders Cannabis Removed From State’s List of Controlled Substances

A Clark County, Nevada judge ruled on Wednesday that the state pharmacy board does not have the authority to regulate cannabis and cannabis derivatives under state law and ordered the agency to remove marijuana from the state’s list of controlled substances. In the decision, Clark County District Court Judge Joe Hardy wrote that if the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy “designates a substance as a ‘controlled substance’ but the designation falls outside the authority delegated by the ​​Legislature, the designation is invalid.”

The ruling stems from a case brought against the pharmacy board by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada (ACLUNV) on behalf of Antoine Poole and the Cannabis Equity and Inclusion Community, an organization that assists entrepreneurs in launching businesses in Nevada’s legal cannabis industry. ACLUNV attorneys argued that the Schedule 1 classification of cannabis was unconstitutional because voters had legalized medical marijuana with the passage of a constitutional amendment in 1998. Last month, Hardy ruled that the Schedule 1 classification was unconstitutional.

“The constitutional right to use marijuana upon the advice of a physician does establish that marijuana has an accepted medical use and treatment in the United States,” Hardy ruled in a September decision cited by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The new ruling this week is focused on the pharmacy board’s authority to regulate cannabis. ACLUNV attorneys argued that despite the legalization of medical marijuana and the availability of regulated medicinal cannabis in Nevada since 2000, the pharmacy board continued to list cannabis similarly to illicit substances including heroin and methamphetamine. Lawyers for the pharmacy board countered that the listing was warranted because of the continued listing of marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance under federal law, an assertion rejected by the plaintiffs’ counsel.

“The notion that a state agency is able to engage in unlawful actions because it’s happening at the federal government – it’s just not the way it works,” Athar Haseebullah, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada (ACLU), said on July 15 after the first hearing in the case. “They don’t work for the feds. We didn’t sue the DEA here. We sued the State Board of Pharmacy because this is a state action.”

In his ruling, Hardy wrote that “the Board exceeded its authority when it placed, or failed to remove marijuana, cannabis, and cannabis derivatives on its list as Schedule I substances.”

Advocates Applaud Nevada Judge’s Ruling

After the ruling, ACLUNV noted that the decision means the pharmacy board does not have the authority to regulate cannabis under any schedule. Legal director Chris Peterson praised the judge’s ruling, saying that there has “been an ongoing inconsistency with how Nevada categorizes cannabis.” 

“For some people, it’s a medicine or a good time on a Friday night, and for some people it was a felony,” Peterson said in a statement from the civil rights organization. “We’re glad that we’ve now resolved this inconsistency to prevent further injustice, and we’ll continue our work to ensure that the promise of cannabis decriminalization is realized in Nevada.”

Shawn Hauser, a partner at the cannabis and psychedelics law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP, said that Hardy’s ruling “is a positive development in cannabis reform, in line with recognition by federal lawmakers and the public that cannabis has known medicinal value, can be safely regulated, and is not properly classified as a schedule 1 controlled substance that has no accepted medical use.” 

“Like Colorado, Nevada legalized cannabis through its constitution and developed a robust state regulatory system governing cannabis businesses,” Hauser said. “This case is important precedent confirming that state agencies cannot take action in conflict with state constitutional and statutory provisions, despite the illegality of cannabis under federal law.”

Ashley Dodson, the president and co-founder of Cannabis Equity and Inclusion Community, said that the court’s ruling on Wednesday will help foster social equity in Nevada’s regulated cannabis industry.

“Cannabis has been legal in Nevada for decades, but that hasn’t stopped law enforcement from treating Black and Brown people like criminals. We’re grateful for the ACLU of Nevada for taking this case on and for Judge Hardy for hearing it with fairness and dignity,” Dodson said in a statement. “As far as social equity is concerned, we’ve seen businesses act strategically to keep Black and Brown people out of the unlicensed market by preventing pathways to ownership. CEIC is hopeful that as the last loopholes allowing for the criminalization of cannabis fall by the wayside, we can get back to our original mission of assisting the communities harmed the most by the failed War on Drugs find a way into the industry.”

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