Talking Cannabis and Oakland Roots with Alphonso Tucky Blunt Jr.

“I’m walking the path that I guess was already laid out for me, man,” Alphonso Tucky Blunt Jr. said. It’s been quite a path, as the owner of Blunts and Moore tells it. For over 15 years, Tucky tried to set up shop in the city of Oakland with almost every possible challenge thrown his way. 

In 2018, after a long journey that’s only getting started, Tucky finally created Blunts and Moore, which is the first equity owned cannabis retail facility. Since opening its doors, the company has prided itself on bolstering the community, as well as providing one of the Bay Area’s largest selection of top shelf cannabis products.

How’s a Wednesday like today at the store?

Man, Wednesday so far is good. I haven’t been into the store today. I had some stuff to do at home, but so far, so good. I haven’t heard no complaints. I’ll be in there tomorrow, though. After I finish class, got to go down there.

What’s the class?

I’m teaching Dispensary Operations for the Harrington Institute.

How’s that going?

It’s actually been dope. I’m in week four of six. I got picked to do another six weeks, and to go from trapping, to Oaksterdam, to owning the store, to now teaching it, is amazing. It’s pretty cool. 

When it comes to teaching, are you hoping to help open doors for others? Show others the path you’ve gone down and that it can be done?

Exactly, and to also show the good and the bad. A lot of people only talk about the good that they can see. Everybody thinks everything is cookies, and people don’t understand that behind the scenes, everything’s not cookies, especially in California. It’s just good to be able to help people figure out how they want to move in this space, and to have a voice that people trust is crazy. I’m just taking it all in as it comes.

What’s the bad side?

Just to make sure you’re educated to come in this space, picking your partners. Knowing that you need SOPs. A lot of us get a license in this space and have no business acumen at all. So to jump into a space that’s a billion dollar space and only a dollar worth of knowledge, you can run into some problems. Bad partnerships, predatory lending practices, over taxation in California, so it’s just letting people know what they getting into and what to expect from what I’ve seen in the four years I’ve been on the legal side. So just dealing with the pros and cons. I love being an equity owner. I love having a store, but if I knew, coming in, what I know now, I would’ve done things differently. I’ll put it like that.

What would you have done differently?

For one, found a different partner, but it was good that I met them because I wouldn’t be here. They were put in my path in order for me to get the dispensary, and then they can go about their business, so it worked out. It’s just a lot of us that I talk to, a lot of the inboxes that I get, everybody is all, “I want to sell weed and grow weed,” and it’s like, “Okay, well, do you have $3 to $5 million that you can just waste right now and not get back for three to five years? If you can do that, jump on in.”

But if you can’t really afford that, let’s look at some other options of other things you can do to get in this space, and not have to worry about the taxation. So it’s just exploring all options, and being able to share all options for people to get in this space, because everybody that wants to get into this space, just want to grow and sell. That’s all they want to do, and it’s like, there’s so much more you can do.

So, what about the good side you teach?

Being able to be a store owner, and talk to my team, talk to my customers, and not be up in an office somewhere, being actually on the floor, budtending. I budtend at my store. You know what I’m saying? Being an inspiration to people that you’ve never met before, but are inspired by you, that is something I will take with me to my grave. I’m only used to inspiring my kids or my wife, but I’m inspiring people I’ve never met before, and I’m also putting people in my store in position to do better in the space. 

You’re doing something for your community, you’re giving back. I’m hosting expungement clinics at my store. I have a bunch of food trucks that I have at my store every day, that I don’t charge a dime, and let them make as much money as they can. Just being able to do stuff like that and share my space, those are the good things I look forward to doing every day. I like that. It’s a lot. It’s a lot.

There are a lot of people, whatever the industry, that get to where they are without much help, but when they get there, to choose to give the help and give back? That’s a great thing.

Yes, sir. I think that’s what you have to do. I tell people all the time, “I didn’t sign up for this.” I sold weed since ’96, I got arrested for it. Tried to open a store in like, ’03, ’04, didn’t work out, and just kept grinding, but to be in a position now, to be able to help people when, like you said, I didn’t have that type of help, man, and I would be doing disservice if I didn’t do that.

For me to be the first of what I’m doing, to not help other people come along behind me would be stupid. It’d be like a slap in the face. You know what I mean? I have to do that, and I think that’s missing a lot from this space, because a lot of the people, a lot of the newbies, in the space, don’t understand what the plant is supposed to do. The plant is about compassion. It’s supposed to bring people together, and we’re missing that. It’s a lot of separation in the space right now, and it shouldn’t be like that. 

Courtesy of Alphonso Tucky Blunt Jr.

And a lot of people who get into the business are so unfamiliar with cannabis, where they just think, “This is booming. We should get in on this.” It’s often not coming from just a passion for it.

They don’t care. I mean, just be honest. I mean, they’re getting in it because of the money that they see in it, and that’s great. Don’t get me wrong, I like to make money, too, but I’m coming from a place of, cannabis has been in my life forever. I’ve always looked at selling cannabis as a profession. So to actually have that as a profession, I want that to be explored by other people. 

So you tried to open a store, back in around ’03, and then 15 years later, you did it. What was going on between those 15 years?

So from the time I initially tried to open the store, until 2017, when I found out about the equity program, I stayed in the environment of the cannabis clubs. I worked at a bunch of different clubs, grew weed for clubs, managed clubs, but never could get to the ownership level, and it kind of bothered me a lot because I felt like, “Why can’t I do this?” But I kept working, I always had a job. I kept hustling, but I wanted to own a store, but I just realized after ’03, ’04, based on what had been going on, it wasn’t going to happen. At least it wasn’t going to happen then. I did kind of get discouraged, because I was at the point of, “I’ve been trapping since ’96, I’m tired of trapping.”

I’ve always approached it as a business. I’m still trapping it like it is a business, but I kind of reached the ceiling. You know what I mean? What else can I do? Kept doing my music, kept doing my promotions, kept doing my parties, kept doing my work, met my wife. It was just a whole lot going in, went to Oaksterdam. Oaksterdam opened my eyes up to a lot. I graduated from there in ’08. I was in their third class, I think, in Oakland. So that was pretty eye opening to see that they had a school that was teaching us how to move correct in the cannabis space. I had never heard of that before.

I just kept doing that, stayed on it, and then, quite honestly, bro, in 2017, by then, I had gave up on opening store. I kind of gave up around 2013 and retired completely. I retired from my job, took my 401k, or whatever, and I put all that money into my auto detail business, and I just went full into my auto detail, stopped selling weed. I would only keep weed around for my friends and family, but I stopped, and everything was going good.

Tesla reached out to me in 2017, and I thought it was a joke. I thought it was spam. They hit me on LinkedIn, and was like, “Yeah, we want to bring you in to come teach people how to detail cars,” and I’m like, “Whatever.” I ignored it. About three months later, they hit me back and was like, “Hello, can you come talk to us?” I’m like, “Sure, what do y’all want from me? Is this like you want me to come detail the cars? I own a detail business; what do you want from me?” They’re like, “No, we want you to teach people how to detail cars, but we don’t even have the position created. Can you create a position for us?” So I created a position. I’m the first Certified Detail Trainer in Tesla history.

Congratulations on that.

Thank you. Created the position, going great. I had a good two months in. Everything was on point, and then the guy who interviewed me and hired me, tried to fight me, because basically, I was doing my job, and it was making his job look bad, and instead of him just approaching me like a business saying, “Hey bro, slow down a little bit. You moving too fast. I appreciate your work, but it’s making me…” We could have talked. He didn’t want to talk. He tried to literally fight me, and in the midst of him charging at me, I just politely stood back, and told him, “If you get any closer, I’m going to beat your ass.”

The witness to this conversation was one of his friends, who just so happened to be another supervisor, and being that I was the lowest on the totem pole, I got fired. It was hard, because I had good benefits, good position. I went from detail on the street, making good money. I was making $5k a month, but I went to a position making $85K a year, gone. Completely gone, and I was at a rough patch. It was like, what do you do? Like, “Okay, I can go back to detailing. I could go back and get a job, but what do you do?”

I get a call from Mike Marshall, who’s the voice of “I Got 5 On It.” The guy that’s actually singing, “I got 5,” that’s him. He called me, and was like, “Hey, Tuck, have you ever caught a weed case in Oakland?” And I was like, “Yeah,” hella random, “Yeah, I’ve caught a weed case, why?” He was like, “Man, they got a program giving people opportunities to own in the cannabis space if you had a case. You got to fit certain criteria.” I’m like, “Well, what is it?” He said, “A social equity program.” I pull up my laptop, the laptop that I got from Tesla, crazy, and I’m searching the equity program, and it pop up. I see it, I see what they’re talking about. I see the requirements.

He was like, “I got two people out of Atlanta. They moved to Denver, and then they moved to Oakland, and they’re looking to partner with somebody that fits the criteria, so they can open a store.” I was like, “What they want from me?” He was like, “Nothing. They just want to sit down with you. If you fit the criteria, y’all can come up with whatever agreement y’all come up with, and y’all go from there.” 

I met my previous partner in ’17. We applied for the license in December of ’17. We won the license in January of 2018, and then we opened the store in November of ’18. Literally that fast, just met them, got in bed with them, opened the store, had a good year run, and then all hell broke loose. So that’s kind of, in a nutshell, how it went from me wanting to open a store, and being told I couldn’t, to opening the store 15, 16 years later.

Tucky
Courtesy of Alphonso Tucky Blunt Jr.

I’m always interested in expectations versus reality. How’d they compare?

So day one expectations was initially, “I’m going to have a thousand people in the store.” I didn’t know no different. I thought, “That’s a good number, we can do it.” So coming in, we didn’t know we were going to be the first. So when we were doing all this stuff to open, I didn’t anticipate being the first social equity store to open. It just happened that way. I didn’t anticipate that. I anticipated having a good outing. I knew my name was good in the streets of Oakland and the Bay Area. I knew I could bring the crowd. I knew I could bring support, because people always supported me. I knew I had that. 

Let’s get back to another expectation. I expected I had a good partner. I expected that they were going to teach me the things I didn’t know in this space, and we were going to build together and build a future. Reality, that wasn’t the case. Reality, we did have a good first year. 2018, we’re not going to count, because we opened in November, so it was only two months, but 2019, we had close to a $3 million year. It was reported that we did a $5 million year, but my previous partner reported it incorrectly, in order to gain some other money to run off and open her dispensary. 

The overall expectation versus reality, I had high expectations. The reality is I’m overtaxed. I was underprotected in the sense of the police helping me when robberies happened, but that has, since I yelled at them, has greatly changed. I have a good relationship with OPD now, but reality is, I’m overtaxed, I had a shitty partner, if I can just be frank.

Of course.

And the obstacles that were in front of me were a lot to overcome, but if we talking a revamp of when we restarted in March of last year, when I reopened, after being closed for the robberies, I got robbed twice. George Floyd murder, I was robbed, and my whole store was cleaned out. 

How’s insurance in those cases?

You can file a claim all you want. They’re not going to give you the majority of it, and they’re going to overrate you, and then you won’t be able to get insurance with anyone else. So insurance has become, and this is something I’ve told to New York Times, and whoever wants to listen, insurance really needs to be looked at in cannabis, because they’re not doing what they’re supposed to do. So out of the $1 million loss I took in June of 2020, I got $126,000 back total, and that was for loss of business. I never got anything for my product. I got a little bit of loss of business, and it paid for my TVs that was in the store. That’s it. That’s it, nothing else.

Then we got hit in November. Recently, we got hit in November. That was about a $60K loss. We’re not even filing a claim for it, because if we file a claim, we’re going to get kicked off the policy, and then I have to file with someone else. Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s crazy what they’re doing with insurance. Insurance in California is a scam for cannabis businesses, a true scam. 

To go through all of that, to go through the bad partner, to go through the learning experience, because I took that as a learning experience. I was mad at her and her mom, initially. That’s the initial action you want to have, but in all honesty, I had to take that on the chin, and realize that was a lesson I had to learn. That was a lesson to me. Read your contracts better, read your operating agreements better, know what these terms mean. Even if it’s the same thing over and over on 15 different pages, make sure you understand what it means on each different page. So I can’t fault them, they got over on me. It happens.

How do you move up from that? You know what I mean? I got a good partner now, who ended up being my landlord, previously, Grizzly Peak Farms. We’re doing good things together. They actually just launched a brand with Soulja Boy, so they’re doing things with him now. They did Cannabis Talk One-on-One, I think yesterday, but I’m just a resilient person. 

I’m a solution based person. You give me the problem. Okay, yeah, it was a problem, but how do we fix it? How do we come out on top? I think that’s why I’m still in the position I am, because I have that attitude. When we did get robbed, we put on a concert, me, Berner, Weedmaps, and some others. It was called “I Got 5 On It,” as crazy as it would sound, and we raised money for dispensaries and other cannabis businesses that were affected when the George Floyd murder happened.

Out of all the money we raised, I or Berner never took a dime for our respective brands. We gave it to the others, and I did it, for one, because I felt like that’s what I should do. I feel like Blunts and Moore would be cool, would be able to recover. I didn’t know we didn’t have good insurance, because my previous partner changed the insurance. 

My heart was, “Give,” and it worked out. My whole testimony to whatever’s been going on is, my expectations are, “Man, Blunts and Moore should be all over the world. We should be a brand that everybody should know about,” but reality is, “Yeah, they know about it, but now it’s just time to expand on it.” 

Courtesy of Alphonso Tucky Blunt Jr.

That’s something I respect about Oakland, that sense of community. You can give back, not expect anything, and get back so much more.

Yes, bro, we’re planning another “I Got 5 On It” live, too, and then we’re planning on doing it in Oakland, at the Oakland Coliseum next 4/20. We’re working on that now. I believe what cannabis can do for Oakland is mind blowing. Cannabis has the potential to make Oakland really a real life Oaksterdam, and really have people coming into Oakland for cannabis, and I want to be a part of that. I’m really, really, really, really, really from Oakland. You understand what I’m saying? 

To be able to have something in Oakland and represent Oakland the right way, I’m all for it. I’ve talked to the people that I need to talk to in Oakland. I’m basically trying to get a seat at the table to talk to who I need to talk to. They’re like, “Dude, you are the table. We need to be talking to you.” I’m like, “Well, I don’t know.”

I’m still trying to be as humble as I can with all the stuff that’s going on, but from what I’m gathered, they’re like, “No dude, you’re the one that we need to be talking to.” So I’m just trying to keep my presence good, and just attack. 

Do you want to franchise?

I need to franchise. I believe that that model will work for me, and I’m taking a note out of Berner’s book. I don’t want to own all the stores. I just want to sell the licensing to the Blunts and Moore. Pay me for the licensing; give me my licensing fee, and 5% of the ownership, I’m out your hair. I don’t want to run 38 stores. No, I have kids, a wife, a life. I like traveling, but I can take 5% of 38 stores. If they all making $3 million a piece, you do the math. 

What else are you planning for the future?

I definitely want to work on more speaking engagements. I have five kids. My youngest daughter’s in the eighth grade. She came home about a month ago, and they’re doing a debate in her class about cannabis legalization. Eighth grade.

So, for me, it triggered, “I need to start going to schools now. I need to reach out to these schools, and these colleges, and go talk to them.” Not just about weed, but about the business of weed, you know what I mean? So just to know that they’re doing that, for me, I want to get, like I said, more speaking engagements, more teaching. 

I want to do whatever I can do to spread the word about this plant, that doesn’t have to be overtaxed. We call it ancillary. I’m trying to build up my ancillary job game. Yes, I’m now a dispensary owner. Yes, I want a franchise. That’s all great, but what else could I do besides opening stores? How could I give back to my community? How can I give back to other people, who may not want to own stores? You know what I’m saying?

I’m also doing some stuff with Redman. He has a cannabis political party, a lot of people don’t realize. It’s been up a year. It’s called the National Cannabis Party. I’m working on being a part of that, and then I’m on the NCIA board, I’m on Minorities for Medical Marijuana. I’m tapping into all the resources. I’m doing all the interviews, I’m promoting, I’m traveling all around the country on my own dime, making sure people know about Blunts and Moore. 

I do want to circle back to ’96 when you were starting to sell cannabis.

Yep.

How did it compare to running the store?

This is legal trapping. Real talk, the cannabis industry right now is legal trapping. There’s no difference. The only difference is, with me and what I was doing back then in ’96, I was in control, and I mean, I’m in control of my store, but I can’t control the taxes, I can’t control the police. When I was in the streets, all I needed was my pistol, you know what I’m saying? I didn’t need nothing else. I have to have insurance. I have to worry about my staff, but the comparisons to the street, as far as just selling weed, selling weed is selling weed. 

What I have to worry about, aside from just selling weed, is the key difference. The things that people don’t see. The staff I have to worry about if they’re going to make it home at night, because people are going to want to follow them home. The security, I have to worry about, wondering if they’re secure. My family, I got to worry about. I don’t own a key to my store. I don’t have any of the passwords to the safe, all because I don’t want anyone to jump me, and then take me to the store, thinking they can unlock stuff. 

I didn’t have to worry about that on the streets, and for me, that’s a key difference. I was safer on the streets, to be totally honest with you. You only knew I was selling weed if I wanted you to know I was selling weed. Now, you know I’m selling weed, because everyone knows I’m selling weed. It’s a little different. The same, but different.

Anything else you want to say about Blunts and Moore as we wrap up?

Blunts and Moore is a cannabis company, a cannabis brand, that just so happens to be black-owned. We here to stay. I’m not going anywhere. I want people to come. When they come to Oakland, to know that they want to go to Blunts and Moore, to come check out the vibe. Our colors are orange for a reason. Orange makes people happy.

The post Talking Cannabis and Oakland Roots with Alphonso Tucky Blunt Jr. appeared first on High Times.

Oaksterdam University: 25 Years of Educating and Inspiring the Cannabis Industry

The cannabis industry is growing exponentially, responsible for more than 321,000 full-time equivalent jobs nationwide. As the plant medicine marketplace continues to evolve, the need for high-quality education on everything from cultivation to advocacy, to business management will only increase. Recognizing this need, Oaksterdam University (OU), the preeminent cannabis college, offers a wide range of curriculum focused on the ever-changing needs of plant medicine professionals.

From traditional market operators looking to sharpen their standards knowledge or new professionals aiming to make their mark in cannabis, Oaksterdam provides relevant and up-to-date materials created to set students up for successful careers both online and in-person.

“From no experience whatsoever through expert practitioners in the cannabis industry, we can help professionals transfer their skillsets or assist ancillary industries interface with plant-touching clients,” said Dale Sky Jones, Oaksterdam University’s executive chancellor. 

Founded in 2007 in Oakland, California, this institution of higher learning is the most trusted and recognizable name in cannabis education Since its inception, over 50,000 alumni from 40+ countries have experienced all that OU has to offer. But it’s not just industry community members who rely on Oaksterdam for pertinent and information; government officials, regulators, and law enforcement also look to the university to help guide policy and frame the market of tomorrow.

Cannabis Curriculum Includes Wide Breadth of Topics

Oaksterdam University prides itself on preparing students to go the distance in the rapidly expanding cannabis space. Core programs include Business of Cannabis, Commercial Horticulture, Extractions and Manufacturing, and Budtender certifications. All courses are taught by subject matter experts who have pioneered the legal industry in California and beyond.

“Our curricula are focused on all aspects of the cannabis industry, including federal and state law, politics and history, legal rights and responsibilities, cannabis and hemp horticulture, indoor and greenhouse management, the research and science of cannabis, patient relations, methods of consumption, product safety, operations, business management, economics, legal business structures, compliance, public safety, and advocacy,” Jones explained.

She adds that Oaksterdam aims to provide a holistic view of the emerging plant medicine space, preparing enrollees for the unique challenges and benefits they may encounter while simultaneously supporting reform efforts at large.

“We carefully crafted a well-rounded view of how to focus curriculum to reach learning outcomes that benefit the graduate with what they need to know, not just what they want to know,” Jones said. “We help our students mitigate risk. We are focused on de-scheduling cannabis to legalize research, ensure safe access for veterans and medical patients, decriminalize for all citizens, especially in communities of color, and allow for small businesses to be the backbone of the cannabis industry, as it is in America’s economy.”

Prospective students can explore OU by taking one of three free courses: Cannabis, Pain and the Opioid Crisis; Advocacy; or Seeds. For those seeking to complete their education on their timetable, OU also offers self-paced certification programs.

The Business of Cannabis and Commercial Horticulture Certification Program Semester Cohorts start in August. Interested applicants should note that both are filling up quickly, and the deadline to apply is Aug. 10, 2021, at midnight PST. Self-paced online courses do not have a deadline and are open for enrollment at any time. 

Politicians, Non-Industry Professionals and Community Leaders All Look to Oaksterdam

Oaksterdam prides itself on being a top resource for both aspiring and experienced cannabis industry professionals, as well as those in need of high-quality authoritative knowledge. The institution is trusted by government entities, elected officials, trade organizations and fellow educational bodies to provide trusted and information meant to guide regulatory frameworks and taxation. 

Some of the groups partnering with OU include the U.S. Department of Transportation: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Congressional Cannabis Caucus; Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Agriculture; the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government; The American Bar Association; and The University of California system.

OU is also an authorized provider of technical assistance for Los Angeles’ and San Francisco’s cannabis social equity programs, ensuring these important divisions run smoothly.

From Legacy to Legalization and Beyond, OU Sets the Bar High

Oaksterdam has spent nearly a quarter-century guiding the cannabis industry’s best and brightest while simultaneously shaping the mold for the marketplace of tomorrow. Formed by advocates and early leaders in California’s legacy medical market, OU continues to recognize the nuanced and sometimes complicated nature of the emerging plant medicine space, always willing to adapt to the shifting landscape. From framing regulation to fighting for nationwide reform, the school has cemented itself as one of the most formidable sources of education and advocacy in the global cannabis space.

For Jones and the rest of the administrators, instructors, and staff at Oaksterdam, it’s about removing the stigmas around plant medicine and creating a safe and equitable industry for all.

“Cannabis has been demonized by prohibition and has deprived us of a safe medicine that can be grown itself,” Jones proclaimed. “This is why Oaksterdam University is so diligent to set the standards through our efforts in education. Education is the foundation that drives the standard of a new industry.”

The post Oaksterdam University: 25 Years of Educating and Inspiring the Cannabis Industry appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Friday, December 11, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, December 11, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Exclusive: Cannabis Review Site Weedmaps Nears $1.5 Billion Deal to Go Public – Sources (U.S. News & World Report (Reuters))

// Canopy Growth shuttering facilities across Canada abandons outdoor marijuana cultivation (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Detroit expected to issue recreational marijuana permits by summer 2021 (Marijuana Business Daily)


These headlines are brought to you by Green Worx Consults, a company specializing in project management, workflow mapping and design, and Lean & 6 Sigma process. If you could use help making your business better at business, get in touch with Green Worx Consults.


// New Mexico’s medical marijuana sales rise as prospects for recreational legalization improve (Marijuana Business Daily)

// California Should Decriminalize Psychedelics And Allow Healing Ceremonies Oakland Resolution Says (Marijuana Moment)

// Legislature extends a lifeline to Massachusetts hemp farmers (Boston Globe)

// LeafLink Closes $40 Million Series C Round (Green Market Report)

// Wyoming Is Ready To Legalize Marijuana New Poll Shows (Marijuana Moment)

// California cannabis growers seek cheaper mixed-light license fees saying current cost too high (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Yep more people in the U.S. are smoking weed during the pandemic (Regina Leader-Post)


Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Wednesday, August 19, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Chart: Adult-use cannabis sales remain steady even as unemployment bonus ends (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Inventory growth of Canadian cannabis edibles/beverages far outpaces sales (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Vermont Bill To Legalize Marijuana Sales Finally Scheduled For Key Meeting (Marijuana Moment)


These headlines are brought to you by Natural Order Supply, one of the nation’s premier cannabis cultivation supply companies dedicated to streamlining cultivation and helping industrial hemp farmers calculate their price-per-plant cost. They have everything from lights to harvest supplies to cultivation advice!


// Cannabis E-Commerce Enabler Dutchie Raises $35 Million to Fund Expansion (New Cannabis Ventures)

// USDA on Colorado’s State Hemp Plan: Try Again (Denver Westword)

// Tim Leslie Out as CEO of Leafly After 18 Months (THC Net)

// Biden’s Marijuana Decriminalization Plan Is ‘Meaningless,’ Democratic Congressman Says (Marijuana Moment)

// Advocates Unveil Guide For Psychedelic Healing Ceremonies They Hope To Legalize In Oakland (Marijuana Moment)

// DEA’s Marijuana Delays Are Costing Americans Jobs, Bipartisan Lawmakers Say (Marijuana Moment)

// Marijuana Business License Delays Complicate Illinois’ Goal To Diversify Industry (St. Louis Public Radio)


Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

Love these headlines? Love our podcast? Support our work with a financial contribution and become a patron.

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Strain Review: Mendo Breath Is a Taste of the Emerald Triangle

Over the last few years, Gage Green Group’s flagship strain, Mendo Breath, has found its way into the gardens of some of the best growers in the world.

It all started when Gage Green Group hit the market in 2010 with its initial lineup that included Mendo Montage, Blackberry Pie and an array of G13 Skunk crosses.

From the beginning, the cultivation group organized itself around the philosophy that cannabis can be creative and joyful. They named themselves after “gage,” the word that legendary musicians like Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller used to refer to cannabis.

“The herb has brought countless people renewed creativity and joy,” the Gage Green Group explains on its website. “We cultivate inspiration through growing the finest gage.”

When it came to forming the California-based company, internet forums served as the catalyzing force for the creative partnership behind the Mendo Breath phenomenon.

“I have to give kudos to a guy I met on Craigslist back in 2007 who goes by Jojo Rizo,” Jeff of Gage Green said. “He was big on all those old boards. He was just very renowned for trying new things and working with ruderalis and landraces and he really had some good gear.”

Jeff and Jojo became friends and began trading genetics. Auspicious circumstances — Jeff had a mishap in his garden at the same time Jojo’s wife wanted him to thin out the pack — meant Jeff ended up with a large piece of Jojo’s prized collection of genetics.

“He gave me like 14 different purples, landrace seeds,” Jeff said. The lineup Jeff acquired included Mendo Purple, Killer Queen and Crystal Locomotive. Each was exceptional in its own right. Jojo told Jeff that breeding is where he was going to have the most fun, but warned him to be prepared for the challenges ahead.

Jeff started the first breeding project from those donated cuts in Oakland, California. Not long after, he dropped the first batch of Grape Stomper seeds.

The next big project involved crossing Jojo’s hyper-elite Mendo Purps cut with Crystal Locomotive. The Crystal Locomotive was a cross between Trainwreck and Aloha White Widow. When the Mendo Purps and Crystal Locomotive were paired, Jeff got a strain that he named Mendo Montage.

Jeff went on to cross Mendo Montage with various other winners for a few years. Finally, in 2012, Jeff and the Gage Green team began work on the Mendo Breath line.

In the earliest part of the project, the breeders only crossed one plant, resulting in a handful of seeds. They began to pop the seeds with their partner on the project, NorCal, a popular breeder on the forums back in the day and now the patriarch of NorCal Genetics. NorCal popularized OGKB, his own Cherry Pie Kush cut, and gave a cut of the strain to the Gage Green team. They were the only other people who had it besides him.

“We pretty much created Mendo Breath and Grateful Breath out of that collaboration,” Michael of Gage Green said.

In that first batch, NorCal’s OGKB female was pollinated by a Mendo Montage F1 male that would find its way into many of their crosses. They called that plant “the four-star male,” as he had already been a proven winner for them before they got their hands on the OGKB cut.

After splitting up the roughly 50 seeds in the Mendo Breath F1 stock with NorCal, the Gage Green team discovered multiple winners. As they went through both sets, killer moms and dads appeared, primed to take Mendo Breath forward.

They ended up with five star females that were at the top of the pack and cut the males down to one winner. This parentage line has gone into numerous strains in recent years like the Benevolence and Breath Work #1. They also, of course, bred the Mendo Breath F2 they would release to the public in 2013.

When this popular generation of Mendo Breath hit the market, it quickly established itself as unique for its gassy edge, topped by other aromas uncommon in purple strains.

“It definitely has gas,” said Michael of Gage Green. “The Mendo Montage is why Mendo Breath is not like any of the other [strains closely related to it] — Cherry Pie Kush, OGKB, whatever you want to call it. It’s kind of unique. It doesn’t taste like everybody else’s crosses.”

Michael’s reasoning is that the Mendo Montage side of Mendo Breath’s genetics — all the selection time and experience that has gone into each of its ingredients — is what allows Mendo Breath to shine better than other OGKB cross attempts.

Jeff said he can detect the purples coming through as a background flavor and he believed the resin quality was a result of the Aloha White Widow traits popping up. He called it the frostiest strain he’d ever seen.

Now, five years since that first public drop of Mendo Breath, Jeff spoke on seeing it in the gardens of some of the top cultivators on the planet.

“I think it’s incredible,” Jeff said. “It’s really nice to see the way people stack up some of the things you have done.”

Michael said that a sign of Mendo Breath’s new prominence is the number of growers who look to the strain as a cornerstone.

“You see people will have their main phenos, and Mendo Breath is like one out of five of them,” Michael said. “That, I think, is a really awesome statement to where and how far we’ve come.”

When the strain was just in their personal group, it felt like a team effort, but when the seeds got out, it turned into a community project, Michael said.

Today, the Gage Green team says they think other cultivators are doing a great job with Mendo Breath. Like most growers, the Gage Green team are very selective over the cannabis they choose to consume. Just because the jar has their strain’s name on it doesn’t mean they are going to puff it. That being said, the team said a lot of the Mendo Breath they’ve seen in the wild has been outstanding.

“There are going to be seeds that don’t come out good, that’s just part of every pheno hunt,” Michael said. “But honestly the Mendo Breath hits really well, and every variation of it has come out really unique. They’ve all been just beyond our expectations. We’re proud to see where it is.”

Mendo Breath Stain Statistics 

Lineage: OGKB x Mendo Montage
Profile: Indica-dominant hybrid
Flowering Time: 7-9 weeks

TELL US, what’s your favorite strain?

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

The post Strain Review: Mendo Breath Is a Taste of the Emerald Triangle appeared first on Cannabis Now.

NUG Grows Cannabis & Communities

As the cannabis industry continues to grow, competition to innovate and stand out from the pack has never been more crucial for survival. Cannabis companies that flex cutting-edge ideas, products and services are finding themselves out in front as leaders within the industry, simultaneously growing amazing cannabis and changes in public perception of the plant. One such company is Oakland-based NUG, Inc., a premier, state-licensed company on a mission to normalize the cannabis experience while playing a key role in supporting communities most impacted by prohibition.

It’s not hard to see why the company is considered one of the fastest-growing cannabis brands in California. Founded in 2014, NUG are pioneers and innovators in the space. Their ongoing commitment to equity and community involvement to help normalize cannabis’ place in society is as important to them as their reputation for developing an industry-wide standard for handcrafted cannabis cultivation and manufacturing technology in line with California’s strict compliance codes.

Inside one of NUG’s grow rooms

NUG Grows Cannabis

NUG’s vertical integration business model allows them to be across every facet of the company. World-class facilities in Oakland house the company’s trailblazing R&D, while industry-leading technology combined with state-of-the-art cultivation, extraction and distillation facilities has allowed the company to consistently scale up production and stock their retail destinations via their distribution arm.

A proprietary track and trace system follows the life of a plant from clone to product. This seed to sale view allows NUG to better meet their consumer needs and provide more detailed information on their extensive product line that features award-winning flower including Premium Jack, which took home the coveted “Best Flower” award at the 2012 High Times Cup, concentrates, vape carts, pre-rolls and edibles. The recently released freezer pops demonstrate the brand’s continued advancement of innovative cannabis consumables.

NUG Grows Communities

NUG has two retail destinations; NUG Sacramento that stocks the brand’s portfolio of award-winning products including concentrates, edibles, flowers and pre-rolls and NUG Wellness San Leandro, which features a sectioned-off, dedicated Wellness Center offering CBD products from top brands including Papa & Barkley, including topicals, tinctures and pet products.

“Combining NUG’s commitment to create premier cannabis retail stores with our company mission of normalizing the cannabis experience, the new NUG dispensaries serve as a showcase for ‘best of the best cannabis’ grown and products manufactured in California,” said Dr. John Oram, founder and CEO.

“Equally important, the dispensary functions as an oasis for adult patients and consumers alike to feel comfortable, safe and knowledgeable before making a purchase,” he continues. “We are thrilled to make our mark in Sacramento, which will set the stage for four additional retail stores scheduled to open in California.”

NUG’s third retail store is planned to open in 2020 in collaboration with equity partners in downtown Oakland.

Cutting the ribbon at the NUG Equity Partner Greenhouses opening

NUG Grows Change

Being based in Oakland gives NUG a unique position to empower members of the cannabis community and help motivate and embrace cannabis normalization, helping to showcase the positive effects cannabis can have on local communities. NUG were early adopters of the Oakland Equity Program that works to reverse the damage inflicted on communities throughout the United States as a result of the War on Drugs.

From patented cutting-edge technology to award-winning branded products and dedication to equity and community involvement, NUG is helping grow cannabis.

TELL US, have you tried Premium Jack?

The post NUG Grows Cannabis & Communities appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Cookies Crush

Nothing cannabis-related in the last 10 years found its way into our hearts, blunts and closets quite like Cookies. Even in the earliest days of transition from the medical space to the adult-use marketplace, Cookies was the most well-branded company in the cannabis industry. Today, in a world where PR people are desperate to create the kind of movement Berner’s business savvy and Jigga’s genetics have ignited, nothing else really comes close in the connoisseur space.

Every step in the process of Cookies’ rise had its own wild amount of hype. In the late 2000s, the Girl Scout Cookies strain, called Cookies for short, became the most sought-after new strain in the world. Then, as the second decade of the century kicked off, Cookies became the must-have cannabis clothing brand, moving from social media to storefronts. Today, Cookies as a legal marijuana company is using its branding savvy to take the multi-pronged business even further into the future. From its humble beginning as a singular strain, no cannabis company has been as impactful as Cookies in recent times. We got the scoop on the company’s beginnings from both its most-public face, Berner, as well as its very private breeder, Jigga.

Berner: Cookies Culture

Now a top-selling rapper with more than a dozen albums, Berner first saw the earliest Cookies phenos in 2006. At the time, he was still in high school in San Francisco and had just started rapping. He said he met people like noted cannabis breeders Jigga and Kenny Powers just because they were all city boys in the weed game.

“The first strain Jigga brought me was the Cherry Kush,” Berner said. “It was hella special when I first saw it, it was amazing. It was different for me because I knew all these other rappers didn’t have something like that. You pull up to the studio or the nightclub with people that have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry on, nice cars and the limelight, but they couldn’t get what I had.”

(PHOTO Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now)

What made things extra exciting for Berner, and the new flavors he was getting his hands on, was the fact that enthusiasm levels around OG Kush, Bubba Kush and Granddaddy Purple were starting to fade a bit from their peaks of the 2000s.

“OG Kush was never played out, but the mass producers on the black market had it,” Berner said. “So the Cookies, Cherry Pie and Cherry Kush came around right about the time the big mass producers got a hold of everything that had value. That’s what kind of made [Cookies] special.”

Berner was among the first in the world to lay eyes on the most-dominant strain of the decade and was able to parlay that success into launching a new level of cannabis clout around “exotics,” select strains with rare genetic profiles, under the name Exotics by Berner.

To start capitalizing on the buzz around the weed, Berner founded the clothing brand that would eventually share a logo with some of the most loved dispensaries in the country in 2015. Much like the Cookies genetics, the clothing brand also started in San Francisco.

Berner first whipped up the Cookies now-famous logo just in time for his video shoot with Chris Brown, Wiz Khalifa and Big K.R.I.T. for the “Yoko (Ono)” track. He knew he wanted to wear his own clothing brand in the shoot.

“I was in that position, so I just made the Cookies shirts,” Berner said. “I made the sweatshirt and I wore it in the video. And it’s history.”

As the Cookies company entered a new phase of success, with growing fan adoration for its clothing, things continued to progress with Cookies genetics.

“We came up with the Gelato with [breeder and grower] Sherbinski and Sunset Sherbert,” Berner said. “Now we’re developing our new flavors like the Lemon Poundcake, the Gelattis, all the fire-ass sh*t we have right now.”

Cookies develops its strains and then provides others with the clones to grow them out. Berner said the evolving menu is part of staying dedicated to the brand. Berner also said he was excited to drop a Cookies strain lineup on the East Coast for the first time, available in a Maryland dispensary.

“To see the response to the menu and flavors over there is crazy,” Berner said of the reception he’s seeing outside of California. “We’re just trying to keep this sh*t fun. It’s getting more and more corporate every day. You know you have to adapt with the change.”

Beyond the clothes and the strains, Cookies has also launched a chain of dispensaries. While Berner is the public face of the dispensaries, he doesn’t own them, but rather his company Cookies receives a licensing fee to brand the shops.

Cookies has partnered with a social equity applicant to open a dispensary in San Francisco and now also has California storefronts in Modesto, Los Angeles, Oakland and Redding, as well as a dispensary in Detroit, Michigan.

There have been plenty of brands that have struggled to adjust to the changes that hit the cannabis world in recent years, including increased taxes and stricter regulations, but Berner said he looks at it just like he looks at music. Music changes all the time — and yet he’s been doing it for 13 years.

“And I haven’t fell off,” Berner said. “I’m able to adapt to the change and stay true to myself at the same time. People just got to be able to do that.”

Berner is now looking at the bigger picture, which he says is making sure everyone everywhere doesn’t have to worry about getting caught with marijuana. When I interviewed him over the phone, he noted he was somewhere you definitely don’t want police to catch you with a joint, particularly if you’re black or brown.

“People love weed around the world. It should be legal, I don’t give a f*ck what anybody has to say about it,” Berner said. “This plant was put here for a reason. Yes, the [Proposition] 215 days were incredible, yes the black market was incredible, but at this point in life, I’m a grown-ass man with kids. I can’t be risking going to jail over some weed. And I need the weed. It’s a part of my life.”

(PHOTO Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now)

Berner said he hopes cannabis is legalized everywhere, and that when it’s legalized, people who’ve spent years working in cannabis will be able to stay in the game.

“That’s what we’re doing. We’re trying to bring on some of the brands that are hot, the Seed Junkys, Grand de Flora, the PowerzzzUp guys,” he said, about helping people stay afloat in the cannabis industry. “I encourage more companies out there that have the juice and the capability to put more people on, don’t just be holding your platform to yourself. We’ve really been prideful about putting other people in positions.”

Jigga: Cookies Creator

The Cookie Fam’s champion of genetics, Jigga, is arguably the most famed San Francisco breeder of all time. The only problem: No one really knows who he is. Jigga doesn’t have an online presence and is not known for granting interviews.

When I spoke with him, he was boarding a plane to Jamaica to work on Cookies’ next project and took me through the paces of how he got his start, as well as what flavors we may be able to expect next from Cookies.   

The second-generation cultivator said he saw his parents get in trouble with the law in his youth over cultivating marijuana, but it didn’t deter him from starting down a path that would eventually change the way connoisseur cannabis enthusiasts describe exotic marijuana. He says he grew pot under his first light was when he was about 17 years old.

“My mom let me pop one up in her house,” Jigga said. “But my first real spot was when we graduated to our first spot in the Sunset [neighborhood of San Francisco] at 23rd and Ortega.”

Jigga and his friends were in their late teens and had saved up for years to build out their grow.

“We got this hydroponic setup. We were a bunch of High Times reading kids,” he said with a laugh. “You know, we’d steal High Times magazines and dream of what we wanted to do.”

Like many of his compatriots in the city, Jigga got his start as a grower by providing for San Francisco’s community of terminally ill patients. Those patients and caregivers were the same community that banded together behind activist Dennis Peron in 1996 to pass Proposition 215.

“I worked with the San Francisco Department of Public Health on HIV/AIDS education for many years,” Jigga said, noting he gave cannabis to a few of the San Francisco compassion programs that provided to the sick with medicine free of charge.

While Jigga is now known for creating new cannabis cultivars, he said he likely started growing with Trainwreck.

“We’d get varieties from up in Canada: Hash Plants, these Trainwrecks, these other things they called the original HPs. Those were probably the very first varieties I played with,” he said.

He wasn’t always sure exactly what he was working with, but he certainly had access to good seeds. At the time, the market was favoring purps and then Jack Herer. But Jigga says he always wanted to start hunting down those exotic terpene profiles he’s now so known for.

“Just growing up, I always had that want and that desire for flavors,” he said. “I’ve known Kenny Powers forever. He was the older bro at the time. He always had the wildest genetics — just different exotic flavors. We had some stuff called Breakfast. Our OG Rastafarian friend Zulu had the Hawaiian funk, like stick-to-the-bag-crazy sh*t.”

Jigga said as soon as you got the taste back in the day for that good kush or purple, it was like you were a changed man: “You could never not be exotic, you know what I mean?”

Jigga started pollinating his own plants after seeing guys like Dutch Seed Co., DJ Short, and now fellow Lemonnade collaborator Amsterdam-based Green House Seed Company, in magazines.

(PHOTO Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now)

“I would see articles telling people to throw away their males. I always thought it was a conspiracy theory because they didn’t want other people to enter that little niche,” Jigga said with a laugh.

From the gate, Jigga was experimental: “I’m a scientist, a nerd on the low.”

The First Cookies Cultivar

The strain that really put Cookies on the map — Girl Scout Cookies — is a cross between F1 Durban and Florida OG. Jigga reveals that discovering this now-legendary pairing was more the result of a process than a clear plan.

“We knew we wanted to cross the Durban. It was a potent variety, it had a unique smell,” Jigga said, adding that this was years before Durban really took off.

Eventually, that Durban was paired with a strain called F1, named after the racecar. Jigga said they sometimes called the original Durban x F1 the “Purple Pain,” not because it was purple on the outside, but because the inside looked like a Starburst. He said it was almost reminiscent of pungent incense and he has never seen any other Durban crosses that could compare to this day.

Jigga started working with the Florida OG, the other half of Girl Scout Cookies’ heritage, in the middle 2000s.

“It wasn’t even called OG, it was just called Kush,” he said.

That Florida OG traced back to Jigga’s old friend who was an LA-based contractor that helped a lot of Southern California folks get their grows setup. Somewhere in the process, he got the Florida OG and eventually passed it on to Jigga.

But it took years for Jigga to cross the Florida OG with the F1 Durban after the pieces were in place. Jigga’s other popular early entry into the cannabis genetics scene was Cherry Pie, a cross of F1 Durban with some crazy unknown purple. The Cherry Pie was such a star that Jigga wouldn’t end up popping the original Girl Scout Cookies seeds for a couple of years after making them in the 2000s.

“I never got a chance to dig into them because the Cherry Pie crosses were so f*cking fire,” Jigga said. “A lot of people confuse the purple in Cherry Pie paired with the F1 Durban for Grandaddy Purps, but it’s way older than that. It’s more than likely a Purple Urkle phenotype. We were just so hyped on those and developing those that it took another year or more just to get back into the original seeds paired with the Florida OG male.”

Before that though, Jigga dove into some Cherry Pie x Florida OGs. That Cherry Kush was the first pheno that put what Jigga was growing on Berner’s radar. Eventually, those F1 Durban x Florida OG seeds would hit the world by storm. With a minty nose and a sweet smooth taste, Cookies ascension gained much from the promotion of the strain by the “Cookie Fam” on Instagram and the company gained a passionate group of followers.

After leaping to cannabis fame with Girl Scout Cookies, the Cookie Fam went on to collaborate on breeding the next hype strain: Gelato, with Sherbinski, another San Francisco-based cultivator.

Gelato started the second generation of Cookie Fam strains that evolved after the Girl Scout Cookies. Jigga says that “plenty” of phenos from this second generation didn’t make the cut to get released under the Cookies label.

“When you’re in your own kitchen and you know what ingredients you have to work with, you can kind of foresee what works and what doesn’t work,” Jigga says. “You always just play with new things, new varieties, that don’t end up making the cut.”

Jigga said Kenny Powers, another breeder in the Cookies Fam, is the best for not allowing things to make it out of R&D if they don’t deserve to join the famed lineup of genetics. Over the years, all the seeds Jigga and friends popped to get these wild genetics varied in number. 

“The way I like to [start a new pheno hunt is], as soon as you can, propagate 20 to 30 seeds — just to see a quick view,” Jigga said. “Flower those out to see if it’s even worth going further into a bigger hunt.”

From there, Jigga said the number of seeds he’ll pop can get up to a few hundred if he starts to see the potential. “Nowadays you can spend your time to go search out 1,000-plus [seeds], but I don’t think you really need thousands to really find something.”

(PHOTO Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now)

The next generation of Cookies strains includes a few big winners. The Y x Snowman pairing named after the NBA player Gary Payton is one of the strains the wider marketplace is most excited about. It’s under the Powerzzz Genetics line, a subset of the Cookies brand headed by Powers. At the Cookies launch in Modesto, California in January 2020, this current batch of genetics drove what was the biggest line I’ve ever seen at a dispensary. On top of this new era of genetics, Cookies is now involved in major collaborations with folks on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Jigga held his new breeding projects close to the chest, but said he’s been working with a lot of his main stock of genetics. However, with all the backcrossing, he says the genetics he has have just naturally evolved. But with the rapid pace that Cookies is scaling up, how much time will Jigga have to continue his quest for new flavors in the hands-on fashion that ruled the previous decade?

“As much as I’d like,” he said.

The terpene profiles that are exciting Jigga these days are tweaks on Papaya. He says that G-13 is an older cut he wants to try and get back in the rotation.

 “I still love those exotic flavors, but with the gases,” Jigga said. “I’m into the MACs. And hash strains, high terpenes, just super gassy good solvent-less washing strains. The ones that really put off the flavors and you’re able to capture them in that form.”

With breeders pumping out so many variations on any given strain these days, Jigga believes it takes years to really understand any given tree of genetics he’s working with, and just for it to stabilize to final potential.

“After a few generations, she becomes a mature version of herself,” he said.

Some of the upcoming windows into that quest to understand the terps will include collaborations with Dr. Dre and Damian Marley.

“We’ve got flavors that are just, oh man, we are going to shock the world once again,” Jigga said. “Powerzzz is upcoming with some next level sh*t, it’s going to be crazy.”

Under all the assorted Cookies affiliated flags, over 40 strains are now in full production. That includes Runtz, Grand De Flora, Lemonnade and Cookies.

I asked Jigga what it’s like now to see Cookies as the standard-bearer for successful urban cannabis brands, a company that grew organically out a world where public relations machines are now trying to convince the consumer what great weed is.

“It’s crazy. It’s really a gift we’re able to give our children if we do it right,” he said. “The taste of the future of cannabis genetics is in the hands of us really, you know? To have that opportunity, responsibility, it’s a rush. It’s beautiful. And it’s what keeps you passionate, keeps you motivated. Keeps your love, keeps your vibe going around. Imagine being able to develop the taste of cannabis, for the last decade, and decades to come.”

TELL US, have you tried a Cookies strain or sported any gear?

The post Cookies Crush appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Fire Damages Cannabis Institution Oaksterdam University

An early morning fire Sunday damaged the downtown Oakland buildings housing famed cannabis college Oaksterdam University and the adjacent Patient ID Center, the school’s executive chancellor confirmed to Cannabis Now.

No injuries were reported and responding firefighters extinguished the blaze before it could spread to other buildings, but not before firefighters had to “drop in through the roof and put the carpet out on the second floor,” Dale Sky Jones, OU’s executive chancellor, said via text message.

Both OU’s physical Oakland campus and the Patient ID Center, which offered medical-cannabis “cards” to qualified patients and sold cannabis-related books, clothing and other ephemera, are temporarily closed while the damage is assessed, Jones said. 

In the meantime, OU’s offerings in horticulture, economics, advocacy, and CBD are already online

Online classes launched two weeks ago, Jones said and closing the campus is something the university would likely have done anyhow out of an abundance of caution thanks to the ongoing and widening novel coronavirus pandemic, she added.

Plans to reopen OU’s Los Angeles campus on April 9 appear going ahead. 

As for reopening the physical locations of the two longtime cannabis institutions in Oakland, which played pivotal roles in California’s medical and legalization eras, it’s too early to say.

“We are assessing the damages and making determinations in light of the fire and covid-19,” Jones said. “We’re reaching out to our students before we make a public statement.”

According to Jones, the fire started after an arsonist torched a collection of trash cans assembled outside (which Jeff Jones — a longtime cannabis advocate, Dale Sky’s husband, and the proprietor of the Patient ID Center — had been asking the city to move, he said). 

The fire immolated a city-approved art installation attached to the building’s wall made out of plastic and fiberglass, and then spread onto the roof of the building at 1733 Broadway.

“Not a great moment for downtown for our building,” Jeff Jones said. “I’m still slightly stunned.”

Founded in 2007 by Richard Lee, Oaksterdam University claims to be the world’s first “cannabis college” and claims 40,000 alumni worldwide. The school’s initial instructors included San Francisco medical-marijuana pioneer Dennis Peron and longtime author and educator Chris Conrad.

The name “Oaksterdam” was borrowed from the name given to the surrounding area thanks in part to a permissive attitude that saw a number of cannabis businesses, including Amsterdam-style coffeeshops and Prop. 215-certified dispensaries, thrive well before “legalization” became a household word and a national movement.

And legalization still owes much to the institution and those associated with it. The first serious effort at legalizing recreational cannabis in the United States, 2010’s Prop. 19, was funded almost entirely by Lee’s life savings — proceeds that went to the movement before the federal government seized what was left in a forfeiture proceeding

Abandoned by politicians like current California Gov. Gavin Newsom — who opposed the measure and only later realized legalization was a good thing and a political winner — Prop. 19 lost, 53.5% no to 46.5% yes, but not before demonstrating that legalization was popular and stood a chance at the ballot box. 

That, and teaching a significant number of recent and current cannabis-industry figures how to grow and what to sell, is OU’s lasting achievement — even if the fire proves disruptive.

“It [the fire] will have an effect on things,” Jeff Jones said. “Our businesses will never be the same. Fires have numerous outcomes, none that are good, except change comes out of the ashes.”

TELL US, would you like to take classes that focused on cannabis?

The post Fire Damages Cannabis Institution Oaksterdam University appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Fire Damages Cannabis Institution Oaksterdam University

An early morning fire Sunday damaged the downtown Oakland buildings housing famed cannabis college Oaksterdam University and the adjacent Patient ID Center, the school’s executive chancellor confirmed to Cannabis Now.

No injuries were reported and responding firefighters extinguished the blaze before it could spread to other buildings, but not before firefighters had to “drop in through the roof and put the carpet out on the second floor,” Dale Sky Jones, OU’s executive chancellor, said via text message.

Both OU’s physical Oakland campus and the Patient ID Center, which offered medical-cannabis “cards” to qualified patients and sold cannabis-related books, clothing and other ephemera, are temporarily closed while the damage is assessed, Jones said. 

In the meantime, OU’s offerings in horticulture, economics, advocacy, and CBD are already online

Online classes launched two weeks ago, Jones said and closing the campus is something the university would likely have done anyhow out of an abundance of caution thanks to the ongoing and widening novel coronavirus pandemic, she added.

Plans to reopen OU’s Los Angeles campus on April 9 appear going ahead. 

As for reopening the physical locations of the two longtime cannabis institutions in Oakland, which played pivotal roles in California’s medical and legalization eras, it’s too early to say.

“We are assessing the damages and making determinations in light of the fire and covid-19,” Jones said. “We’re reaching out to our students before we make a public statement.”

According to Jones, the fire started after an arsonist torched a collection of trash cans assembled outside (which Jeff Jones — a longtime cannabis advocate, Dale Sky’s husband, and the proprietor of the Patient ID Center — had been asking the city to move, he said). 

The fire immolated a city-approved art installation attached to the building’s wall made out of plastic and fiberglass, and then spread onto the roof of the building at 1733 Broadway.

“Not a great moment for downtown for our building,” Jeff Jones said. “I’m still slightly stunned.”

Founded in 2007 by Richard Lee, Oaksterdam University claims to be the world’s first “cannabis college” and claims 40,000 alumni worldwide. The school’s initial instructors included San Francisco medical-marijuana pioneer Dennis Peron and longtime author and educator Chris Conrad.

The name “Oaksterdam” was borrowed from the name given to the surrounding area thanks in part to a permissive attitude that saw a number of cannabis businesses, including Amsterdam-style coffeeshops and Prop. 215-certified dispensaries, thrive well before “legalization” became a household word and a national movement.

And legalization still owes much to the institution and those associated with it. The first serious effort at legalizing recreational cannabis in the United States, 2010’s Prop. 19, was funded almost entirely by Lee’s life savings — proceeds that went to the movement before the federal government seized what was left in a forfeiture proceeding

Abandoned by politicians like current California Gov. Gavin Newsom — who opposed the measure and only later realized legalization was a good thing and a political winner — Prop. 19 lost, 53.5% no to 46.5% yes, but not before demonstrating that legalization was popular and stood a chance at the ballot box. 

That, and teaching a significant number of recent and current cannabis-industry figures how to grow and what to sell, is OU’s lasting achievement — even if the fire proves disruptive.

“It [the fire] will have an effect on things,” Jeff Jones said. “Our businesses will never be the same. Fires have numerous outcomes, none that are good, except change comes out of the ashes.”

TELL US, would you like to take classes that focused on cannabis?

The post Fire Damages Cannabis Institution Oaksterdam University appeared first on Cannabis Now.

The Decade in Weed Hype

How does one truly define the last decade in cannabis hype?

Is it the wild strains that took over the world in waves? When the decade began, Cookies held court at the top, as the great Purples and OGs that captured the American connoisseur’s attention through the 2000s fell to the wayside for Cookies’ new “exotic” terpene profiles. Then, Cookies’ next of kin Gelato took over for a couple of years, leading up to the Zkittlez era in the middle of the decade. With the way the marketplace diversified following the launch of the legal cannabis market in California in 2018, we think we’ll continue to see strains that carry as much mystique as the winners of the 2010s.

Or is the decade of cannabis hype best described as a tale of surviving political challenges? Despite Barack Obama’s campaign trail promises before the New Hampshire primary in 2008 that he wasn’t going to go after providers in compliance with state law, providers like Richard Lee at Oaksterdam, the Berkeley Patients Group, Harborside, and so many others spent years in the courts defending their models originally intended to provide access to the sick. By the end of the 2010s, they ended up with a new president at odds with his now-fired Attorney General of the United States over the approach his Department of Justice took in enforcing cannabis laws.

Or should the focus be on how the industry blossomed into one of the world’s fastest-growing sectors this past decade? Seemingly every quarter, new estimates put a larger number next to how much the global pot industry will be worth at some point in the 2020s, with a bevy of data explaining the hypothesis.

Or maybe it’s defined by the communities of color that got hit the hardest by the War on Drugs’s racist enforcement of cannabis laws in places like New York, OaklandLos Angeles, and Chicago who are now fighting for their fair shot in the industry?

It’s probably all of these things.

Let’s consider how hash has progressed in the last decade as a perfect representation of the industry as a whole. At the beginning of the 2010s, most cannabis concentrates were consumed through waxy lipid-filled dabs that smelled like a candle shop that sold wet towels. Those days are behind us. Now, we smoke terpene-loaded badders and diamonds so fat they wouldn’t have looked out of place on Elizabeth Taylor’s necklace at the Cleopatra premiere. The progress from what we were smoking in 2010 was fast after the first slabs of dewaxed shatter hit the world that year.

And this story of progress is mirrored with the development of cannabis flowers, edibles and every other type of cannabis product people enjoyed for kicks or used as medicine over the past decade. Things aren’t perfect, and THC limits certainly hit many edible folks in the wallet, but generally, the consumer is a lot better off today than they were in 2010. Laboratory testing for cannabis was two years old in 2010, and again still not perfect, but certainly has taken the level of safety up via the scrutiny flower could face.

Overall, the tale of the decade’s cannabis hype is one of enthusiasm and education, of being excited about where the game went for those that wanted to take part in the legal market, and of learning the lessons from each place that cannabis moved into the light.

Despite every state and nation that got involved thinking they had to reinvent the wheel when it comes to how they do legal marijuana, we’re trending upward. A good scenario for the next decade is the weed continues to get better, and it becomes easier for people not backed by millionaires to open cannabis businesses.

The best-case scenario is that there is nobody left in prison for marijuana by 2030, but our hope is that it will be much sooner.

TELL US, what was your favorite cannabis strain of the decade?

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