Oregon County Declares State of Emergency Due to Illegal Grows

Local leaders of a county in southern Oregon declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, saying that the illegal production of marijuana in the community is a threat to public safety. In a letter to state leaders, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners said that the proliferation of illicit cannabis farms in the area has overwhelmed local law enforcement.

“Jackson County strongly requests your assistance to address this emergency,” the commissioners said in the letter to Gov. Kate Brown, state Senate President Peter Courtney, and Oregon House of Representatives Speaker Tina Kotek.

The commissioners are calling for funding, manpower, and state National Guard troops to help deal with the problem of illegal marijuana cultivation in the county. Members of the board said that law enforcement, local code compliance officers, and state cannabis regulators have been overburdened by the illicit activity and warned of an “imminent threat to the public health and safety of our citizens from the illegal production of cannabis in our county.”

“Since recreational marijuana was legalized by the voters of Oregon in the November 2014 general election, the illegal and unlawful production of marijuana in our county has overwhelmed the ability of our county and state regulators to enforce relevant laws in our community,” Jackson County Commissioner Rick Dyer said in a video press conference on Wednesday.

Law Enforcement Calls for Service Spike with Legalization

Advocates for legalizing recreational marijuana in Oregon campaigned on assertions that cannabis reform would reduce the burden on law enforcement agencies. In Jackson County, however, local police have seen a spike in crime they say is related to illicit cannabis cultivation.

“Law enforcement in Jackson County reports a 59 percent increase in calls for service associated with the marijuana industry, including burglary, theft, assault, robbery, and nuisance crimes,” Dyer said. “And there’s also significant evidence of narco-slavery, forced labor, human trafficking, immigration issues, squalid and unsafe living conditions and exploitation and abuse of workers, child welfare issues and animal abuse.”

This year, the sheriff’s office received a state grant to add two detectives and a property and evidence clerk to the payroll to help combat illegal cannabis farms. But to properly address the issue, Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler said that the community needs an additional 18 detectives, four patrol deputies, three supervisors, and nine support personal, as well as $750,000 per year to cover expenses for services and materials. 

Aaron Lewis, a public information officer for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, told reporters that “the illegal marijuana problem in Jackson County is rather large.” 

“We have an area that is very conducive to growing outdoor marijuana. So it’s been very difficult to stay on top of some of the scope of some of the operations here in the Valley,” Lewis said. “There’s a lot of investigative work to identify major players in the game, and from there take down these processing facilities and get some of the illegal marijuana off of the street.”

Eradicating an illegal cannabis grow operation involves disassembling greenhouses, uprooting thousands of marijuana plants, confiscating and processing evidence including firearms, as well as detaining or arresting workers on the site. At a raid on an unlicensed cultivation facility on Wednesday morning, officers with the Jackson County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team destroyed 17,522 cannabis plants and about 3,900 pounds of harvested marijuana while taken three people into custody, according to a report in local media.

Public Agencies Strained by Enforcement Workload

The extent of illegal cannabis cultivation also strains the resources of other public agencies. In 2015, Jackson County code enforcement personnel handled 604 cases, none of which were related to marijuana. Through September of this year, the office has had 1,006 cases, with 663 of those related to cannabis cultivation. The local office of the Oregon Water Resources Department has also seen a spike in activity, with complaints of water theft jumping from 39 in 2015 to 195 this year.

Much of the illicit cannabis cultivation is occurring on what are ostensibly hemp farms. The Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission recently reported that nearly half of the registered hemp farms inspected by the state are actually growing marijuana. About 25 percent of the hemp operations refused entry to inspectors, according to state agencies.

Charles Boyle, a spokesman for Brown, said that the governor takes the situation in Jackson County very seriously, noting that she created a multi-agency team to fight illegal marijuana cultivation after lawmakers passed legislation amending how the state regulates its hemp and cannabis industries. Brown also directed the Oregon State Police to dedicate additional resources to the area and doubled funding for cannabis law enforcement grants in the region.

“The message is clear – Oregon is not open for business to illegal cannabis grows,” Boyle said. “These are criminal enterprises that deplete water resources while our state is in drought, hold their workforce in inhumane conditions and severely harm our legal cannabis marketplace.”

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Illicit Cannabis Grow Op Discovered in Oregon

An enormous, illicit marijuana grow operation was discovered in southern Oregon last week in what local authorities are describing as an unprecedented bust. 

The operation was found last Wednesday near the town of Klamath Falls, Oregon, where deputies reportedly stumbled upon a “27,000-square-foot potato shed” south of the town. 

The potato shed, according to the Herald and News newspaper, was “filled with marijuana in various stages of processing: drying in giant strands that stretched from the roof to the floor, buds pruned and stuffed into 40-pound bags, hundreds of those bags stacked against a wall and years of discarded marijuana waste in piles ready for disposal.”

Authorities believe the value of the marijuana discovered inside the shed likely eclipses $100 million in street value.

The newspaper noted that Chris Klaber, sheriff of Klamath County, Oregon, said “he had never seen anything like it in 30 years of police work,” and that the operation “wouldn’t have been found if a single car hadn’t thrown up enough dust that a neighbor mistook it for a wisp of smoke.”

Fire crews and deputies from Klamath County responded to a call on Wednesday about “possible smoke in the area,” the Herald and News reported, adding that deputies “noticed the back of a nearby building was open and they could clearly see marijuana inside” and “there was more of it than any of them had ever seen before.”

According to the Associated Press, the Klamath County sheriff’s office executed its search warrant on Thursday, the day after making the discovery. People on the scene were interviewed, but no arrests were made, the Associated Press reported, adding that the building contained cots where workers slept.

The Herald and News said that most of the people interviewed on the scene did not speak English, “and many soon drifted from the scene.”

Kaber told the newspaper that the “raid on the potato shed led detectives to two other grow operations that were linked to the processing facility, where they found more marijuana and processing equipment,” and that all three sites “were linked by land ownership, lease agreements and by heavy equipment rentals to multiple locations taken out under a single name.”

“I’ve had to completely readjust my sense of where we are in fighting illegal marijuana production in Klamath,” Klaber said, as quoted by the Herald and News. “I didn’t think we were this far behind.”

“This really is—and I’ve said it before—organized criminal activity,” Kaber continued. “This definitely fits the definition in Oregon of what organized criminal activity is.” 

It marks the second significant bust of a southern Oregon marijuana grow operation in the last few months.

In late August, the sheriff’s department in Josephine County, Oregon raided a cannabis ranch that was suspected of being a hub for various illicit activity, including human trafficking. 

Jefferson Public Radio reported at the time that the raid was “part of a larger investigation that began with the death of a man from a different illegal marijuana farm.”

Around 250 law enforcement officers participated in the raid of the more than 1,300 acre property, resulting in the confiscation of $140,000 in cash. Authorities also destroyed more than 70,000 pounds of marijuana, 6,000 pounds of processed weed and nearly 400 greenhouses.

Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel believed the operation bore the hallmarks of a cartel.

“We’ve heard of the threat of harm to your family if you don’t go with us,” Daniel said at the time. “And then they are transported up to the location. From what we are understanding, these workers are not paid until the end of the year when the shipment goes out and the money is brought in. There’s not, like, a weekly payroll going on here.”

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Oregon State University Hemp Center Receives $10M Grant

The Global Hemp Innovation Center at Oregon State University announced last week that it has received a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study and define the economic opportunities for hemp in the western United States. 

Provided by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems grant program, OSU scientists plan to use the funding to partner with eight institutions across the country in a five-year research program.

The research will be designed to address the needs of businesses in Native American and rural communities in a vast region of the Western Pacific United States covering four states. Jeffrey Steiner, associate director of the hemp center at OSU, told reporters that the funding received for the research program is one of the largest grants to study hemp ever awarded.

“We just feel really fortunate to get it,” Steiner said. “It’s a very competitive program, and we’re among the elite institutions to get the money.”

Establishing a Robust Hemp Economy

Although hemp agriculture and products made from hemp were legalized with the 2018 Farm Bill, developing a comprehensive industry to produce grain and fiber from hemp as well as CBD and other cannabinoids has had a sluggish start so far. More research is needed to study where different types of hemp can best be grown and the best genetics and farming techniques to use. 

Researchers also plan to study where to best process the hemp materials grown in the region, likely growth markets to support the expansion of the hemp industry, and how to incorporate the crop into existing production systems in order to complement rather than disrupt markets.

“We established the Global Hemp Innovation Center in 2019 to bring together a wide variety of stakeholders to address big unanswered questions about the hemp industry,” Steiner said in a statement from the university. “While enthusiasm for hemp has grown, there is still a tremendous lack of knowledge about the crop.”

The research funded by the USDA grant will focus on the rural transportation corridor that runs through Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California east of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, from the southern to northern borders of the United States. The immense region encompasses a variety of mostly arid environmental conditions with large areas of both irrigated and non-irrigated agricultural production.

Creating Equity in the Hemp Industry

The four-state area to be studied includes a significant number of Native American Tribes and leading researchers including Native American farmers and tribal leaders in the research project, specifically Laurie Danzuka, the cannabis project coordinator for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in Oregon. Through this collaboration, researchers plan to include the cultural and economic needs of tribal communities as part of business development efforts for the region.

“The Warm Springs Tribe has interest in exploring and expanding our agricultural opportunities in hemp production and this is one avenue to achieve this,” Laurie said. “This collaboration will allow us to identify potential sustainable uses for hemp, utilize best farming practices and provide learning opportunities to the membership.”

Steiner added that including tribal communities in the research will introduce Native American students to different aspects of the emerging hemp industry while addressing the historic inequities in American agriculture.

“The up-front involvement of tribal communities along with other rural communities in this work is critical to its success,” Steiner said. “The potential economic opportunities this new commodity may have presented tremendous potential for rural communities, and our project has set out to ensure those opportunities are equally available and relevant to all kinds of farmers.”

Scientists with Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and researchers from OSU’s colleges of Business, Engineering, and Pharmacy, and the university’s Extension Service will collaborate with Global Hemp Innovation Center scientists in the research program. 

They will be joined by research partners from the University of California, Davis; Washington State University; University of Nevada, Reno Extension; the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Volpe National Transportation Systems Research Center, the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program; 7 Generations, a Native American-owned firm that specializes in business development for tribal communities and the USDA’s National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service and Western Rural Development Center.

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Criminal Element Seen in Illicit Cannabis Grows Amid Oregon Crackdown

Local authorities across Oregon’s southern counties have reported a proliferation of unlicensed cannabis grow operations this year – with much sensationalism about involvement by criminal cartels. But the death of a man dropped off at a Chevron station in Cave Junction in early August brought the claims into grim focus. 

Human Trafficking in Josephine County?

This bleak discovery prompted the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office to investigate a massive outlaw grow in the Illinois Valley that they said showed evidence of human trafficking and involuntary servitude.

Sheriff Dave Daniel told local KDRV that a man was dropped off at the gas station, “very near death,” and that he expired on his way to a local hospital. The cause of death had not yet been determined.

In the resultant Aug. 17 pre-dawn raid, troops from more than a dozen state and federal agencies, including Homeland Security and the FBI, backed up the Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team. The target was the Q-Bar-X Ranch near the town of Kerby, where agents found some 200,000 marijuana plants in more than 400 “hoop-houses” spread across the 1,300-acre property. Some 6,000 pounds of processed cannabis and $140,000 in cash were also reported as confiscated. 

Sheriff Daniel said that about 130 workers were detained for “questioning,” at the properties, and stressed the squalid working and living conditions at the site. “At this point the workers are being treated as victims,” he told KDRV.

The man whose mysterious death supposedly sparked the raid did not actually work at Q-Bar-X Ranch, authorities admitted. He is believed to have worked at a farm in Cave Junction, Jefferson Public Radio reports. But within two days of his death, the Cave Junction farm had been harvested, and the workers apparently moved to the ranch in Kerby. 

Sheriff Daniel said suspicions of human trafficking followed multiple 911 hang-up calls that came from the property, as well as a source who is remaining anonymous for security reasons. Daniel said that he sees the modus operandi of a criminal cartel at work here.

“We’ve heard of the threat of harm to your family if you don’t go with us,” Daniel told Jefferson Public Radio. “And then they are transported up to the location. From what we are understanding, these workers are not paid until the end of the year when the shipment goes out and the money is brought in. There’s not like a weekly payroll going on here.”

‘Narco-Slavery’ in Jackson County?

Similar claims are now raised by authorities in Jackson County, bordering Josephine on the west—both in the Klamath Mountains along the California border. 

In late August, Jackson County Commissioners sent a letter to Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown demanding emergency resources to battle “narco slavery” in the area, according to local KOBI-TV. Jackson County Commissioner Rick Dyer said recent raids by law enforcement revealed appalling living conditions for workers at illicit cannabis cultivation sites. He added that most of the workers appear to be victims of human trafficking.

“We’re asking the state to help us with this issue, which is a state-regulated industry,” Dyer said. “Help with law enforcement officials, we’re looking for help with code enforcement, help with the water master.” The Jackson County Watermaster’s Office coordinates with the Oregon Water Resources Department to manage the local watershed, that of the Rogue River. 

A similar letter to Gov. Brown by state lawmakers from the area made accusations of “severe aggravation of the drought through massive and systematic water theft, long-term damage to agricultural lands from various polluting practices, and the financial ruin of licensed growers whose compliance obligations make competition impossible… All this is taking place across the Rogue Valley with essential impunity.”

An account in the Southern Oregon Mail Tribune described conditions reported by police at recently raided grow sites: “Workers are sleeping in tents or on shipping container floors, sometimes with nothing but pieces of cardboard for mattresses. They lack running water for drinking, showering, cleaning their clothes or using the toilet. They’re exposed to pesticides, store their personal belongings in trash bags and live near dozens of fire-prone outlets strung up on plywood, according to photos from drug busts in the Rogue Valley this summer.” 

Mexican Cartels in Deschutes County? 

In early September, authorities made direct claims of Mexican cartel involvement in an illicit cannabis grow in Deschutes County. This is north and inland from the Klamath, on the east side of the Cascade Range.

A county drug enforcement team raided a 30-acre grow operation in the town of Alfalfa, seizing 9,227 plants and 2,800 pounds of processed bud. Authorities called it the biggest drug bust in the county’s history. Two pistols and an AR-15 rifle were also confiscated. Officers detained and released about 21 people, who they said were mostly Mexicans illegally trafficked into the United States to work in the illicit cannabis trade. 

“We did not arrest any of the migrant workers,” Sgt. Kemp Vander Kamp of the Sheriff’s Office told The Oregonian. “Most of them were there to pay off debt for being smuggled into the country.”

The workers were reportedly found living in wooden shacks and dome tents with limited clean water sources.  “We didn’t know we would be walking into a humanitarian aid situation,” Vander Kamp said. 

Federal Prohibition Part of the Problem?

Oregon is among the states where a big illicit sector persists despite cannabis legalization, which was approved by Beaver State voters in 2014. While conservatives point to this as a failure of legalization, Oregon’s cannabis advocates point out that the legal sector is still reined in by federal prohibition: illicit operations often produce for out-of-state markets, while licit crops are prohibited from crossing state lines—resulting in a glutted adult-use market. 

Advocates have been pressing for a legal interstate market to relieve the economic pressure on the licensed industry and make it more competitive with what appears to be an increasingly sleazy and oppressive outlaw sector.

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Oregon Cannabis Ranch Tied to Alleged Human Trafficking

A ranch in southern Oregon was reportedly raided last week over suspicion of various illegal activity, including alleged cannabis cultivation and human trafficking. 

According to a report from Jefferson Public Radio, the sheriff’s department in Josephine County, Oregon conducted the raid on Wednesday as “part of a larger investigation that began with the death of a man from a different illegal marijuana farm.” 

“The man had been driven to the Chevron gas station in Cave Junction in critical condition and left there,” the report said. “The man later died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. Within two days of his death, that Martin Road farm had been harvested, and the workers moved to this ranch, called the Q Bar X Ranch, in the Illinois Valley.”

The station said that the allegations of human trafficking “followed multiple 911 hangup calls that came from the property, as well as a source who is remaining anonymous for their own safety,” with the Josephine County sheriff, Dave Daniel, saying that the farms have the look of cartels.

“We’ve heard of the threat of harm to your family if you don’t go with us,” Daniel told Jefferson Public Radio. “And then they are transported up to the location. From what we are understanding, these workers are not paid until the end of the year when the shipment goes out and the money is brought in. There’s not like a weekly payroll going on here.”

The investigation is an extensive effort, with the county sheriff’s department being assisted by more than a dozen other state and federal law enforcement agencies that include both the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The raid itself proved just as substantial. Jefferson Public Radio reported that 250 law enforcement officials entered the property, which spanned more than 1,300 acres and included 200 workers. “At the conclusion of the operation, 10 firearms and $140,000 in cash were seized. In addition, 72,283 marijuana plants were destroyed along with 6,000 pounds of processed marijuana and 373 greenhouses. When the over 250 law enforcement officers entered the property, they found the workers living in squalid conditions, sleeping on cardboard mats or in tents,” the report said. 

The report said that workers “denied that they had been trafficked,” and that no arrests have been made.

Recreational marijuana is legal in Oregon, but growers must be licensed. Voters in the state legalized weed in 2014 when they passed a ballot measure permitting recreational marijuana use for adults 21 years and older. Dispensaries opened their doors to customers a year later. 

The raid last week in Josephine County evokes a similar operation in Oklahoma that was broken up earlier this summer. In June, according to local television station FOX 25, Oklahoma’s Bureau of Narcotics busted a “grow operation included a 40-acre, 24,000 plant farm with an estimated marijuana value of $36 million” that was not licensed. The raid uncovered “20 to 30 Hispanic men [who] were working on the farm and were potentially victims of Human (Labor) Trafficking,” the station reported at the time.

“While none of them willingly claimed to be a victim, these men were forced to live in deplorable conditions. They stayed in make-shift shanties without electricity or running water to the property. They appeared to be bathing and washing their clothes in a less than sanitary and stagnate creek/pond nearby. Interviews revealed that they had not been paid and were told that would receive a percentage of the profits after the harvest,” a spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics told the station.

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Pretty in Pink: A Glimpse at Green Source Garden’s Pinkleberry Strain

Amidst the forested foothills at the junction of the Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges, a steeply terraced hillside garden sits resplendent with row after row of dazzlingly vibrant cannabis in magnificent full bloom.

On this south-facing slope in southern Oregon, chuffy colas gleam with vigorous vitality as they bask in the midmorning sun. A kaleidoscopic array glows in vivid shades of green, splashed with bright yellow fennel and dotted with plush purple buds radiating florid fuchsia pistils.

The brilliantly hued varietals on display at Green Source Gardens did not acquire their exotic coloration by accident. Co-owner Elizabeth Luca-Mahmood says a joking motto around here is: “If it ain’t pink, it better stink!”

“And if you’ve got a pink bud that stinks, that’s what we call a keep-stink,” she says. “The Pinkleberry is a keep-stink.”

Overlooking an expansive vista from the top of the hill, the thick magenta Pinkleberry flowers are almost unfathomably luscious. Because these plants are grown from seed, each is a unique individual with slight variations from her sisters.

“I love watching it grow, and the smell is all piney and so good, and then you’ve got that deep relationship with it when you smoke it,” Luca-Mahmood says. “[The high is] really zingy, heady, active. It gets your brain flying, which I love when I’m cleaning the house, or I need to go out and do some monotonous task or something. I like that zinginess.”

Her husband, Nick Mahmood, says that Green Source Gardens’ original genetics are primarily derived from a handful of Blackberry and Afgoo seeds obtained in Northern California’s Mendocino County several years ago. Developing Blackberry eventually produced the striking mix of pink and purple that distinguishes Pinkleberry.

A close up photograph of Pinkleberry in a shallow depth of field shows off the brightly colored tendrils of this floral strain.

Charming the Bees & Dragonflies

These gorgeous specimens have achieved Instagram fame, with glamour shots routinely garnering thousands of likes from more than 40,000 followers.

As surely as fennel attracts butterflies and bees, Green Source Gardens’ flamboyant flowers attract the attention of admirers.

Among those drawn to the pretty pink pictures are Kelly Dunn and Josh Sarvis of Dragonfly Earth Medicine, who share a passion for breeding colorful plants.

Dunn recalls how she and Sarvis came across Green Source Gardens through Instagram and quickly realized they were kindred spirits.

“We were like, ‘Wow! These people used to be vegetable farmers, just like us.’” she says.

Dunn says that when she and Sarvis traveled down from British Columbia to the 2015 Emerald Cup in California, they visited several farms they believed to be “truly regenerative,” among them, Green Source Gardens.

A large purply plant shoots up on a background of Oregonian mountains.

“We’re a little bit picky about who we give our genetics to,” Dunn says. “We want to know that they’re going to be grown with pure cultivation practices and the utmost respect.”

Both Green Source Gardens and Dragonfly Earth Medicine exemplify an approach that goes beyond organic to produce the cleanest cannabis possible using methods that improve the health of the ecosystem.

When Dunn and Sarvis met the Mahmoods, they knew Green Source Gardens was a perfect fit for Dragonfly Earth Medicine’s “DEM Pure Certificate,” which recognizes farms that meet the highest standards for regenerative growing practices.

After trading seeds, the couple grew a few of Green Source Gardens’ strains at Dragonfly Farm.

Dunn said she’s particularly pleased with Willy’s Goo, describing it as “tremendously purple,” with an aroma of “crushed grapes and dusty cedar closets.”

The First Crop

Meanwhile, back at Green Source Gardens, White Grapefruit x Tangilope from Dragonfly Earth Medicine is ripening alongside Chem 4 x Pinkleberry.

“This is the combination I wanted,” Luca-Mahmood says. “The structure and the density and the resinousness of the Chem 4 but you get the pinks of the Pinkleberry.”

One plant in particular catches her eye.

“Oh, that one is amazing,” she says, pointing at the impressive specimen. “It’s gotten so fat! Look at that!”

Nick Mahmood examines it thoroughly, leaving the tip of his nose sticky with resin.

“That smells like Chem 4,” he says. “This has the dank, disgusting, wonderful smell of Chem 4. It’s so gross; I love it! Doesn’t it smell like an ancient ship filled with rotting limes?”

A vibrantly purple plant of Goo Tang from the mountains of Oregon.

At the farm, more than 900 cannabis plants are interspersed with a cover crop of comfrey as well as pineapple weed, salad burnet and plantain running wild.

Since Green Source has been issued a license for recreational production by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, they are no longer limited by plant count. Now they are free to grow as many as they want within a set square footage, which has always been their dream.

“It’s such a better way to be able to work because you can grow out thousands of starts instead of just a few hundred,” Luca-Mahmood says. “So you can really experience the diversity and genetic spectrum that exists in your seed bank. That gives us a lot more opportunity to develop strains, and so we’ve been growing smaller plants here but much higher numbers.”

And unlike the massive trees found at many pot farms, these are modestly sized bushes.

Luca-Mamood says she loves the smaller plants, because they require little to no trellising and are easier to harvest.

“They get to be healthier because they’re not trying to maintain this giant structure,” she says. “And they still flower really nicely.”

This is the end of their first season on this land, so everything is an experiment. Last year, when the Mahmoods acquired the property, it was a barren hillside that had previously been mined for gold, heavily logged and overgrazed by ranchers.

Testing the soil indicated that it was free of chemical contamination, but the serpentine bedrock made it less than ideal for cultivation. Having spent the past six years growing medical marijuana on flat bottomland, they welcomed the challenge.

“If we can do it here, we can do it anywhere,” Luca-Mahmood says.

“Anybody can go to a prime farmland soil scenario, do just a very little bit, and get production,” Mahmood adds. “By taking a space that isn’t set up very well for production, we can turn something that is not thriving into something that is thriving. And anything that has been produced on a space that’s been healed is going to get the healing energy.”

Despite its initial lack of fertile soil, the location suits their needs. The climate in this region is optimal for cannabis. The surrounding second-growth forest offers biological diversity. And at 2,000 feet in elevation, Green Source Gardens is at the top of the watershed, with access to pure mountain water unpolluted by agricultural pesticides.

Short purple spikes jut out of green leaves on the Rosebud cannabis plant.

Rather than clearing the area and bringing in large pots filled with store-bought soil, they used a technique called hügelkultur that involves building raised beds from compostable material.

They gathered the compostable material from their 80-acre parcel, burying logs and other decomposing organic matter to form mounds. They covered these with straw and a layer of manure produced by their own small herd of goats, sheep, llamas, donkeys, chickens and a cow.

Relying on locally available resources reduces expenses and avoids the negative environmental impact that comes from commercial production and shipment of soil amendments and fertilizers.

“We want to provide something that is defining a place. We’re not depending on anybody else,” Mahmood says, though Luca-Mahmood did clarify that they do source raw materials from other local farms. “I think people can tell there’s something different about cannabis from Green Source Gardens, because it is a life-based, zero-commercialized product.”

He says that feeling people get comes from the broader social and environmental mission of Green Source Gardens.

“It’s grown with that intention of recovering health to the planet. That is where the highest quality will come from — from a space that’s brought into health, and not from a commercialized perspective, from a perspective of caring and wanting to nurture a scene to be healthier,” he says. “And I think that transfers.”

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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Zion Herbals: Pushing the Limits of CBD

Zion Herbals is carrying their motto, “strictly the best,” into all they do. 

Founded in 2010, the Richmond, Virginia-based botanicals and extracts brand offers a wide range of hemp products, all designed to give users clean, effective and consistent results for an improved sense of well-being. 

In order to maintain control over the entire manufacturing process and ensure the highest quality from seed-to-sale, Zion Herbals sources hemp from their Oregon and Virginia hemp farms. Both farms are located on land that has been untouched for over 100 years, and are completely free of chemicals, pesticides and processed fertilizers. Only bat guano and fish emulsion are used for fertilization. Although they don’t have the USDA certification, all farming is organic and follows a a Rastafarian level of purity known as “Ital.” 

Zion Herbals is the flagship brand of parent company BotanaWay, which offers white label manufacturing and branding services for approximately 40 brands and provides hemp cannabinoid extracts for more than 200 brands. For BotanaWay founder and CEO, David Reynolds Derian, Zion Herbals is an outlet where he can showcase the company’s high-quality extractions via in-house formulations in a variety of delivery methods—from tinctures and pressed tablets to pre-rolls and liquid gels.

“We always offer a higher level of purity and lab-verified cleanliness with less residual solvents then can be found anywhere in the industry,” he said. “Strictly the best is our motto, and that is what we’re known for.”

Pushing the Limits of Extraction

Zion Herbals pushes extraction methods to over 99% pure, meaning a complete isolation of the cannabinoids. Their Delta-8 THC is at 95% purity, compared to most competitors on the market, which rank in the high 80s.  Once purity reaches the high nineties, the oil becomes crystal clear, like water. 

“You can visibly see its cleanliness,” Derian said.

The company’s proprietary extraction process uses multiple extraction methods in order to reach this high level of purity with the end-result being a completely solvent-free extract. 

“The final steps to get to the higher stages are super expensive and difficult,” Derian said, explaining that a greater level of knowledge and understanding around safety is required, as well as additional lab equipment. 

A higher level of purity doesn’t necessarily make for a stronger product. However, when cannabinoids are surrounded by fewer impurities, they can bind to the body’s receptors more effectively. This translates to a cleaner, healthier, and more well-rounded experience. 

“Steps of pushing it to the extreme are costly, but these are things we don’t avoid,” Derian said. “I believe we are a couple steps ahead. By the time others get to where we are, we are going to be on another plateau.”

Refined Delivery 

Zion Herbals intentionally stays away from more recreationally inspired consumption methods, such as gummy bear edibles and vaping. Rather, the company aims to create mature delivery methods, like pressed CBD tablets. 

“We’re trying to forge and develop new paths as a dietary supplement manufacturer,” Derian said. “I think CBD tablets, much like a pressed aspirin, is the future.” 

According to Derian, since these kinds of products are more normalized in society, they also appeal to a broader range of consumers seeking the benefits of hemp.

Delta-8 THC 

All Zion Herbals products are health-oriented, including their Delta-8 THC. Derian was initially on the fence about adding Delta-8 THC to the product line, but after a loyal customer shared how the cannabinoid had helped him manage pain without anxiety, Derian decided it supported the Zion Herbals mission. 

“My mission is to provide natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals,” he said. 

Packaged in pharmaceutical-style bottles, the Delta-8 liquid gels are intended for medicinal uses rather than a way for people to get high. The effects are fast-acting and immensely stronger than CBD.  

Five Fan Favorites

Zion Herbals offers a plethora of products to choose from online. A few favorites are the best-selling CBD Soft Chews, Pressed CBD Tablets, Hemp Flower Jars, Delta-8 THC Liquid Gels, and their line of Element C CBD Sparkling Juices. Pushing the limits and staying ahead of the curve is what Zion Herbals is all about. Each of these products exemplifies their mission to improve and perfect delivery systems and flavors as they take CBD products to a new level. 

1) Citrus Mango CBD Soft Chews

Through a partnership with The Apple Rush Company, a leader in the natural beverage industry, Zion Herbals utilizes their access to large-scale food preparation equipment to make these unique CBD Soft Chews, featuring all organic ingredients. Reminiscent of a starburst, each delicious chew has a sweet Citrus Mango flavor and is formulated to offer a relaxing and well-balanced sense of calm. It’s like a little treat and completely masks the bitter taste of CBD. Individually wrapped, each CBD chew contains 30mg of hemp extract and can be taken as needed. This is a great consumption option if you need CBD but haven’t had much to eat, as the organic sugars act as a carrier and help your body absorb the product. 

2) Pressed CBD Tablets 
Zion Herbals Hemp Extract CBD Tablets

Available in jars of ten, these pressed CBD tablets contain 75mg of CBD each. If you are seeking relief for a specific health issue, whether it’s severe pain or epilepsy, these tablets are an easy way to incorporate high levels of CBD into your diet daily. The precise dosing means you can count on every tablet being exactly 75mg. While there are a few other pressed CBD tablets on the market, you’re unlikely to find any with this high of a dosage. 

3) Premium CBD, CBG and Delta-8 Infused Hemp Flower Jars
Zion Herbals Sour Space Candy Hemp Flower

Zion Herbals’ whole hemp flower is available in CBD, CBG and CBD/Delta-8 THC strains. All of these flower offerings give people a way to enjoy the benefits of CBD in a more social and spiritual way. 

Sour Space Candy, Cherry Cirtus, and T1 are CBD-only varietals. The Bubba Kush and Honolulu Haze strains combine both CBD and Delta-8 THC for an immediate calming effect. Whole hemp flower is also available in two CBG strains: White Lion and White Whale. A natural sedative, CBG is a perfect way to wind down before bedtime. White Whale is grown in Oregon and is very frosty with a lot of cannabinoids on the flower, helping clean out your lungs. White Lion is grown on Zion Herbals’ Virginia hemp farm and has an earthier flavor profile. 

This year, Zion Herbals is also growing Goliath, Abacus 2.0, and Peach Mint Kush on their Oregon hemp farm and will be adding these strains to their lineup in the fall. 

4) Delta 8-THC, 20-mg Liquid Gels
Zion Herbals Delta 8 Liquid Gels

The Delta-8 soft gel is an excellent way to ensure you are taking precisely 20mg at a time. To get standardized exact dosing requires precision—something Zion Herbals can claim, thanks to their experience manufacturing for brands on a large-scale. One capsule is a sufficient serving size and is very effective. You can expect to receive the maximum benefits that Delta 8-THC has to offer through an advanced delivery method that is easy to take with you on-the-go. And last but not least, MCT oil (commonly known as coconut oil) is used for the carrier, making these liquid gels a natural, healthy option.

5) CBD Sparkling Juices
Zion Herbals Element C CBD Sparkling Juice

Zion Herbals teamed up with the beverage company Apple Rush to create their Element C CBD Sparkling Juice line and reach a wider audience by tapping into their impressive distribution network. Available in Black Cherry, Blueberry, and Plain, these sparkling juices contain 25mg of water-soluble CBD. The plain flavor is like a sparkling water while the black cherry and blueberry flavors are similar to Fanta.

With no added sugars and all organic ingredients from real juices, these sparkling juices are a fun and delicious way to ingest CBD. Zion Herbals’ proprietary emulsification process makes for high bioavailability, meaning you will feel the effects faster and stronger too.

Quality Assurance

All of Zion Herbals’ products are third-party lab-tested (typically by Columbia Food Laboratories) in order to give consumers complete peace of mind. Current QR codes are listed on each and every product, taking you directly to the most recent lab results for total transparency. 

The post Zion Herbals: Pushing the Limits of CBD appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Friday, April 16, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, April 16, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Alabama Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill That Already Passed The Senate Heads To House Floor (Marijuana Moment)

// Idaho Republicans tried to block any future marijuana legalization. How’d it turn out? (Idaho Statesman)

// 69 Percent Of Americans Now Support Legalizing Marijuana- An All-Time High Quinnipiac Poll Finds (Marijuana Moment)


These headlines are brought to you by Cova Software, the number one dispensary point-of-sale system in North America! Swing over today to see why two thirds of all Canadian cannabis stores run on Cova software, which is also the fastest growing dispensary software in the U.S., with more than a hundred new client dispensaries open for business in January alone!


// Dispensary Owner Says Fred Meyer Refused to Accept Her Electric Bill Payment (Willamette Week)

// D.C. Dispensaries Welcome Looser Restrictions On Cannabis Classes (Outlaw Report)

// TILT Holdings Q4 Revenue Expands 8% Sequentially to $42.3 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// New Study Suggests More Testing For Psilocybin Depression Treatments (Green Market Report)

// New York could establish weed-supply advantage over New Jersey (Crain’s New York)

// Limited Tennessee Medical Marijuana Bill Heads To Senate Floor (Marijuana Moment)

// The Cannabis Industry Remembers Steve Fox (Forbes)

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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Photo: Sibeckham/Flickr

Wednesday March 17, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, March 16, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Connecticut House Speaker Says ‘Optimism Abounds’ As Marijuana Legalization Negotiations Proceed (Marijuana Moment)

// Legalizing Marijuana Has Been A ‘Uniformly Positive’ Move In Washington State Governor Says (Marijuana Moment)

// Oregon Governor Appoints Panel To Implement Historic Legal Psilocybin Therapy Measure (Marijuana Moment)


These headlines are brought to you by Agilent, a Fortune 500 company known for providing top-notch testing solutions to cannabis and hemp testing labs worldwide. Are you considering testing your cannabis in-house for potency? Agilent is giving away a FREE 1260 HPLC system for one year! If you are a Cultivator, processor, or cannabis testing lab you may qualify for this giveaway. Open up bitly.com/cannabis-contest to answer a few quick questions to enter to win!


// California awards $15 million more in cannabis social equity grants (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Ann Arbor to put $476K in new marijuana revenue to social equity programs (Michigan Live)

// Majority Of Florida Voters Back Marijuana Legalization And Oppose THC Limits, New Poll Finds (Marijuana Moment)

// Columbia Care Beats On Revenue, Misses On Earnings (Green Market Report)

// Village Farms Cannabis Sales Grow 2% Sequentially to $17.3 Million in Q4 (New Cannabis Ventures)

// It’s completely legal, but still the hemp industry has trouble finding banks – here’s why (Columbus Dispatch)

// State’s first on-site consumption cannabis bar set to open (KFVS 12 CBS)

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.

Photo: Dannel Malloy/Flickr