Major League Baseball to Allow CBD Sponsorships

The MLB stated in a conference call on June 21 that CBD is now an “approved category” which means that teams are now allowed to sell CBD sponsorships as long as the brand has received an NSF certification (a verification that a product has no THC).

According to Sports Business Journal, MLB Chief Revenue Officer Noah Garden explained the reason for the change. “We’ve been watching this category for a while and waiting for it to mature to the point where we can get comfortable with it,” said Garden. “We told the clubs if you want to do a deal in the CBD category, it will require two things: One is NSF certification—and none of them are there yet, although around three to five [brands] are in process. The other is to get approval from the commissioner’s office…Our fans are very much the kind of customers they are looking for, and we like being first. It’s a good opportunity for us and the clubs. The last few companies that came to see us about this, the process of NSF certification was embraced. That gave us a comfort level to be able to move forward.”

Recently, analysts shared that CBD could generate up to $4.9 billion across the globe in 2022, with a projection of reaching $47 billion by 2028.

The MLB “patch program,” which began in March 2022, allows each team to feature a brand and logo on their team uniforms for on-field players. The San Diego Padres was the first team to embrace this new sponsorship by partnering with Motorola. With this in mind, Garden added that a CBD brand could possibly be featured in a patch deal too. “We are open-minded to doing a patch deal here, depending on the brand and what that brand represents,” Garden said. “It has to have a brand that represents sports.” 

It’s a landmark milestone for CBD in the MLB, but the conversation spans most other sports organizations as well.

NBA athlete Kevin Garnett said in an interview with Sports Business Journal last week following his attendance of the Brand Innovation Summit that was held in Chicago, Illinois on June 13-15, “I think with the emergence and where CBD is going, not only are you going to see a deal [in the NBA], you are going to start see the sponsorships on the jerseys.” Garnett continued, “You are going to start to see a more active role of CBD products actually signing players, both women and men. And then I think you’re going to see the education come out a little more because we’re all looking for it now. I think CBD is here, it’s a disruptor, it has disrupted pharma, as it should, and it’s a great, different solution. If people are not using it, I recommend people to go out and have your own testimonials and your own experiences with it. It really does work.”

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Vice President of Global Partnerships Grant Norris-Jones also spoke at the event on the topic CBD and its benefits for athletes. “It’s a better alternative to addictive products, like pain killers, opioids, and sleeping aids,” said Norris-Jones. “The big problem has been the different standards and practices by our various broadcast partners when it comes to CBDs…In the U.K., [UFC sponsor] Love Hemp is sold in the equivalent of Walgreens and CVS. Here, their activations have to be outside of ESPN currently. So it’s been a lot of digital, social and a brand ambassador program with our athletes.”

The MLB first made waves towards allowing cannabis consumption for athletes over two years ago. Following the events of baseball player Tyler Skaggs who died of an opioid overdose, the organization announced in December 2019 that it would be removing cannabis from its list of “abused drugs” (but would still test for substances such as fentanyl and cocaine).

However, the MLB still said in March 2020 that players may receive punishments for appearing under the influence of cannabis at any practices or games.

The NBA was next to make history when it announced in October 2021 that it would not be testing its athletes for cannabis during the 75th season, which began in October 2021 and ended in May 2022.

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NBA’s Montrezl Harrell Busted With Three Pounds of Weed

NBA forward Montrezl Harrell is facing felony drug charges after police discovered three pounds of weed during a traffic stop in Kentucky last month. Harrell, who plays for the Charlotte Hornets, was scheduled to appear in court to answer the charges filed in Madison County, Kentucky on Monday but the arraignment hearing has been delayed until next month, court records show.

According to a police report cited by the Charlotte Observer, Harrell was driving a rented 2020 Honda Pilot southbound on I-75 on the morning of May 12 when he was pulled over by a Kentucky state trooper for following too closely behind the vehicle in front of him. In the report, Trooper Jesse Owens wrote that after stopping Harrell’s vehicle, he “observed” the odor of marijuana. The citation also notes that Harrell “admitted to being in possession of marijuana and produced a small amount from his sweatpants.” Law enforcement officers then searched the vehicle Harrell was driving. During the search, the trooper discovered “three pounds of marijuana in vacuum sealed bags” in a backpack that was found on the back seat of the vehicle, according to the traffic citation.

Harrell has been charged with trafficking less than five pounds of marijuana. Under Kentucky state law, possession of more than eight ounces but less than five pounds of marijuana is classified as a Class D felony for the first offense. Those convicted of the charge are subject to a sentence of one to five years behind bars and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

The Charlotte Hornets have declined to comment on Harrell’s case, according to multiple media reports.

8-Year NBA Career

Harrell, a North Carolina native, is in his eighth season with the NBA. He played NCAA Division 1 college basketball in Kentucky for the University of Louisville Cardinals, where he averaged 11.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots per game. As a freshman, he played on the Cardinals’ 2013 national championship team, although the title was later taken away by the league for NCAA violations.

In June 2015, Harrell was chosen by the Houston Rockets in the second round of the NBA draft, the 32nd pick overall. On September 19, 2015, he signed a three-year contract with the Rockets and made his NBA debut with the team in the season’s opening game against the Denver Nuggets on October 28, scoring eight points and pulling down three rebounds. Harrell made his first career start with the NBA on November 13, playing 13 minutes of game time and sinking five points in the Rockets’ defeat of the Denver Nuggets. During his rookie season, he was assigned to the Rockets D-league affiliate the Rio Valley Grande Vipers several times.

In June 2017, the Los Angeles Clippers traded Chris Paul to the Rockets, acquiring Harrell, Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Lou Williams, Kyle Wiltjer and a 2018 Houston first-round draft pick in the deal. In September 2020, Harrell was named the NBA Sixth Man of the Year, an award given by the league for the season’s best bench player. That season, the Clippers went to the playoffs, losing in seven games against the Denver Nuggets. Harrell averaged 10.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per game in the playoffs that saw the Nuggets advance after starting the series down three games to one.

Harrell signed with the Los Angeles Lakers on November 22, 2020, making his debut with the team one month later and logging 17 points, 10 rebounds and three assists against his former team and Lakers’ crosstown rival the Clippers. In August 2021, Harrell was traded to the Washington Wizards as part of a deal for Russell Westbrook. In February of this year, he was traded to the Charlotte Hornets, scoring 15 points and six rebounds in his team debut on February 11. Harrell is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent when the NBA’s new league year begins in July.

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LeBron James Calls for Brittney Griner’s Release from Russian Prison

NBA superstar LeBron James on Sunday called on the U.S. government to work to secure the release of WNBA champion and Olympic basketball gold medalist Brittney Griner, who has been held in a Russian prison on a cannabis possession charge for nearly four months.

“We need to come together and help do whatever we possibly can to bring BG home quickly and safely!! Our voice as athletes is stronger together,” James wrote on Twitter over the weekend.

James also shared a message from his brand Uninterrupted that calls on President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to work for Griner’s release. The post also encouraged readers to learn more about the case online.

“For over 100 days, BG has faced inhumane conditions in a Russian prison and has been denied communications with her family and loved ones,” reads a message from Uninterrupted that was included in the social media post. “As a decorated Olympian and member of an elite global sport community, BG’s detention must be resolved out of respect for the sanctity of all sport and for all Americans traveling internationally. It is imperative that the U.S. Government immediately address this human rights issue and do whatever is necessary to return Brittney home.”

James also posted a link to an online petition hosted by Change.org that maintains that “Griner is a beloved global citizen who has used her platform since her entry into the WNBA to help others.” James encouraged fans to share and sign the petition, which had collected more than 250,000 signatures as of Tuesday.

Olympic and WNBA Superstar

Griner is a seven-time WNBA All-Star center who has played for the Phoenix Mercury since 2013, including the team’s 2014 league championship squad. She has also twice won the Olympic gold medal with the U.S. women’s basketball team.

Griner has played seven seasons of professional basketball in Russia during the winter, a common practice among WNBA players. She earns about $1 million per season to play in Russia, about four times the salary she earns playing for the WNBA. On January 29, Griner played her most recent game with her team UMMC Ekaterinburg before the Russian league took a two-week break for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments.

The Russian Customs Service reported on March 5 that an American women’s basketball player had been detained after cannabis vape cartridges were discovered in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow. The date of the arrest was not given and Griner was not named in the report. The customs also released a video that appeared to show Griner with security officials at an airport security checkpoint.

The Russian state news agency TASS subsequently reported that the arrested player was Griner. Although the date of Griner’s arrest was not announced, media outlets reported that she has been in custody since February 17. After news of the arrest made headlines, the WNBA and the players’ union issued messages of support for the star athlete.

“Brittney Griner has the WNBA’s full support, and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States,” the league wrote in a statement after Griner’s arrest was announced by Russian media.

Griner’s arrest by Russian authorities has led to an outcry from lawmakers, cannabis advocates, celebrities, and fellow athletes. Democratic Representative Colin Allred of Texas, the star athlete’s home state, said on March 9 that he was looking into Griner’s arrest.

“My office has been in touch with the State Department, and we’re working with them to see what is the best way forward,” said Allred, as quoted by ESPN. “I know the administration is working hard to try and get access to her and try to be helpful here. But obviously, it’s also happening in the context of really strained relations. I do think that it’s really unusual that we’ve not been granted access to her from our embassy and our consular services.”

A month after her arrest, Russian authorities announced that Griner’s detention would be extended for two months. TASS reported on March 17 that Griner was being held in an undisclosed Russian prison pending further investigation of the case. The news agency also said that Ekaterina Kalugina of the human rights group Public Monitoring Commission, a quasi-official body with access to Russian prisons, had visited Griner. Kalugina reported that Griner was doing well and being held in humane conditions.

In May, the U.S. Department of State reclassified Griner’s status, saying that she had been “wrongfully detained” by the Russian government.

“The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner,” the State Department wrote in an email to ESPN. “With this determination, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens will lead the interagency team for securing Brittney Griner’s release.”

Since then, however, the status of Griner’s case has remained unchanged, prompting the renewed calls for her release from James on Sunday.

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Fueled by Cannabis: Pot-Powered Athletes are Focusing on Recovery

Despite strict doping rules that can impact the trajectory of an athlete’s future, many former and current athletes stay active with the assistance of cannabinoids.

Natural processes in every human body, such as the runner’s high, mimic and overlap with the effects of cannabis. In terms of physical fitness, the science suggesting how cannabis can benefit recovery and mental health is overwhelming.

High Times reached out to some former professional athletes who are spreading awareness about the ways that cannabinoids can help aid in the recovery process after exercise and how these compounds can promote mental health when pharmaceuticals fail. 

Courtesy of Ricky Williams

Ricky Williams

Former NFL running-back-turned-cannabis-advocate Ricky Williams is putting all of his energy into his cannabis-related business endeavors. Why? Because pointless cannabis restrictions in sports almost turned his career upside-down.

Williams won the coveted Heisman Trophy in 1998. He boasts 10,009 rushing yards, 68 rushing touchdowns, 2,606 receiving yards, and eight receiving touchdowns. But despite his accomplishments in the NFL, he was suspended five times during his 11 seasons with the league because of cannabis—and his celebrity notoriety as a toker didn’t help.

Williams missed out on two NFL seasons in his prime because of drug tests. Cannabis is stored in body fat and can linger in the body for weeks if not months. He launched Highsman, a cannabis lifestyle brand created to empower professional and everyday athletes, in October 2021. The company’s name is a play on the Heisman Trophy.

Most recently, Williams collaborated with the popular pre-roll company Jeeter to launch a new cannabis strain called “Sticky Ricky,” but it’s not the profits he’s after. According to an announcement, 100% of the proceeds from this collaboration with Jeeter are going to Athletes for CARE (A4C) to support mental health initiatives. A4C is a nonprofit organization founded by former athletes including Williams, with a mission to assist fellow athletes with everything from mental to physical health.

Williams revealed some of the reasons he turns to cannabis to help in mental and physical recovery. Lately, he’s been into yoga, meditation, and healing, augmented with cannabis.

“Yoga is a major part of my physical routine, and when practicing, cannabis allows me to be more aware of how energy is moving in my body/mind system,” Williams said. “For example, it helps me to feel where there is flow and where there is congestion or a lack of flow.”

Like the “flow state” achieved by cross country runners and endurance sports figures, cannabis can provide a beneficial trance that brings balance. 

“This connection allows me to focus my movement in ways that lead to efficiency and ease of movement, which has the added benefit of helping to prevent injuries,” Williams said.

highsman.com

athletes
Courtesy of Floyd’s of Leadville

Floyd Landis

Road racing cyclist and former Tour de France champion Floyd Landis found relief with the help of CBD and other cannabinoids. Among his many decorations, Landis originally won general classification—the main prize—at the 2006 Tour de France, in spite of suffering from osteonecrosis, a disease caused by reduced blood flow to the joints. He powered through and rebounded in stage 17 against all odds. His hip was later replaced with a metal-on-metal hip joint. 

Landis then became one of the first to come clean about the widespread doping controversy involving the top endurance road racing cyclists in the world over a decade ago, losing some titles. He was subsequently portrayed by Academy Award-nominated actor Jesse Plemons in the 2015 film The Program

“Back in 2006, I had a hip replacement as a result of injuries I sustained in bicycle racing a few years before that,” Landis told High Times, acknowledging that the benefit of medical cannabis wasn’t always accepted like it is today, especially in the world of pro sports. “Back then, it was known within small groups but it wasn’t, you know, talked about and widely debated as it is now. And so I was prescribed some narcotics along the way for dealing with pain after the surgery.”

Landis explained that opioids work well for pain—initially. But some people turn to them to forget about their problems, which can lead to full-blown addiction. 

“Next thing, you know, it’s a problem in and of itself,” Landis said. “I’ve dealt with that for a couple years. And I kind of discovered marijuana a few years later, as a means to [aid] for whatever reason.”

Throughout his career, Landis didn’t smoke weed, as it wasn’t part of the endurance cycling culture. He wouldn’t discover its medical benefits until later on. 

“[Cannabis] also comes with other psychological benefits,” he said. “It helps with anxiety. It helps with the things that probably people are trying to treat with narcotics.”

Organizations such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are slowly changing the tune on CBD, which is allowed, and expanding the limits for THC. 

“Up until recently, at least, they haven’t considered testing for CBD metabolites and I don’t think they ever will,” Landis said of WADA. “They are focused on THC. And even that’s become deregulated quite a bit.” 

Landis also acknowledged the similarities between the runner’s high and cannabis. The phenomenon describes the euphoria caused after a moderate exercise of 20 minutes or more. It is a natural mechanism in our bodies involving the endocannabinoid system, a cell signaling system which promotes balance when it comes to things like motivation and appetite. The experience of the runner’s high is the body feeling the rush of a cannabinoid produced internally as opposed to the cannabinoids produced in the cannabis plant.

“I think a lot of what your body naturally produces, through exercise, are very similar to some of these cannabinoids,” Landis said. “And so people often augment that with either marijuana or hemp products to kind of enhance the feeling that they get in, you know, at the end of a long run or that for hours afterwards.” 

Landis explained that the endurance events he is used to are a bit more extreme, so the runner’s high is accompanied with the shock of a strenuous workout. Endurance athletes are constantly balancing their careers with the effects of exertion from long distances such as inflammation or pain and swelling in the tendons.

Throughout Landis’ career, he attracted a few familiar fans. Robin Williams was among the top followers of endurance cycling and Landis. He even gave Landis a nickname that stuck—“Mofo of the Mountain.”

“He was great,” Landis said. “He got into being a cycling fan, riding his bike a bit, just trying to stay healthy back in, during the time when Lance Armstrong [was riding]. And so he would come, you know, he would come to the Tour de France and join us on the bus after a given stage and tell jokes. And I always kind of envied him. He seemed like he was just naturally high all the time.”

Leadville, Colorado is home to some big endurance sports, such as the Leadville 100, running races, mountain bike races, and so on. In 2018, Landis launched his CBD company Floyd’s of Leadville and is currently debuting a product with CBN, CBG, THC, and CBD. 

“We’re always constantly trying to refine which combinations of cannabinoids will do what,” he said.

floydsofleadville.com

athletes
Courtesy of Josiah Hesse

Josiah Hesse

Josiah Hesse, author of the book Runner’s High: How a Movement of Cannabis-Fueled Athletes Is Changing the Science of Sports, is among the top advocates of cannabis-propelled athleticism. Last September, Hesse spoke to ABC News correspondent Linsey Davis to discuss his book and explain how the runner’s high is linked to the high from cannabis—exposing the phenomenon to a much bigger audience.

“The two—neurologically speaking—are nearly identical,” Hesse told High Times. “What goes on in the brain, when we have the natural runner’s high, as mentioned, is an endogenous cannabinoid. Most researchers point to anandamide, which comes from the Sanskrit word for bliss.”

Hesse explained that humans have engaged with the high associated with an endocannabinoid boost for millions of years. The body’s production of endogenous, or internal cannabinoids like anandamide, reduce pain and increase things like joy and the appreciation of nature. We also get those effects from phytocannabinoids in cannabis. As explained in Hesse’s book, neurologists have data to suggest that THC increases the production of anandamide, so it is believed to get you to the runner’s high more quickly and efficiently. 

“The percentage of people who are exercising—who knows what percentage of them enjoy it,” Hesse said. “Throughout the process of promoting this book effort, so many people talked about how much they hate exercise, but that they do it anyway. So it’s an even smaller fraction who are doing it as a playful, enjoyable, recreational activity. So what cannabis can do is induce that natural evolutionary reward system for enjoying exercise quicker and faster.”

Research indicates that you need to get over a certain hump to achieve the runner’s high. 

“It’s typically running at around 70% heart rate for 20 to 30 minutes,” Hesse said. “Most people don’t get there—they either go too fast or they go too slow and never get there. Either way, most people hate getting to that point.”

Hesse said a moderate dose of cannabis can be a way for people to achieve that euphoria faster and more efficiently. He said that he personally never had any interest in sports, and very little interest in exercise—that is, until he started prepping with cannabis edibles. 

In sports organizations like the NBA, cannabis use is everywhere. Former Chicago Bulls No. 2 pick Jay Williams told Jade Sciponi of FoxBusiness in 2016 that 75% to 80% of NBA players smoke cannabis.

“I found out that [cannabis use in sports] is so popular, yet so under-reported,” Hesse said. “I couldn’t ignore it as a journalist.”

The World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from the list of banned substances in 2018 and raised the threshold of THC up to 120 nanograms, which allows athletes to utilize cannabis during training and then stop a week or two before competition. THC metabolites are typically out of the system by then, but the Mayo Clinic cites that they can be detected for as long as 46 days after consumption.

“I don’t think it qualifies as a performance-enhancing drug in the way that we think we understand that term, which is in relation to competition,” Hesse said.

The purpose of strict doping rules is to abate the use of banned substances like steroids, which can make competitive situations unfair. 

“That’s not going to happen with cannabis. It’s not going to make your muscles stronger. It’s not going to make your blood more efficient,” Hesse said.

josiahhesse.com

Courtesy of Eben Britton

Eben Britton

Entrepreneur, founder, advocate, and former NFL star Eben Britton’s book, The Eben Flow, is a compendium of experiences and insights exploring his transformation from pro sports to his recent focus on wellness. It’s a fascinating read incorporating various tracts of health practices from all corners of the world and a testament to Britton’s devotion to health and well-being.

Trauma and the NFL are synonymous, given the brutal nature of the sport. After six seasons of professional football, four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars followed by two with the Chicago Bears, Britton was “physically, mentally, and emotionally destroyed.”

Fortunately, the alternative ways cannabis can help played a major part in his mental and physical recovery.

“My relationship with cannabis has evolved greatly over the last few years,” Britton told High Times. “While it is still an integral part of my daily routine I use it in a much different capacity today compared to how I used it during my career.”

Britton is also currently focused on practices involving yoga, as well as breathing and meditation. Ayurvedic medicine is also part of the new ways Britton is incorporating alternative therapies.

“In Ayurveda, cannabis is known as a ‘trauma reducer’ and it was exactly this during my NFL career,” Britton said. “When I was taking on significant physical damage, as well as emotional and mental stress, cannabis was my saving grace. Something I could come home to that would quell my rattled nervous system, decompress my mental and physical body, allowing me to rest and recover.”

Britton admitted in 2016 that he consumed weed before three NFL games he played in. Finding alternatives to prescription drugs is a big part of the message he wants to convey in his book.

“Over the last five years, as I have healed many of the wounds that plagued me during my career, cannabis has taken on a much different role,” Britton said. “I primarily use CBD for mental clarity and inflammation, consuming much less THC than I ever have, saving my whole-plant cannabis consumption for after a sunset to prepare me for a restful night of sleep.”

After retiring from professional sports, Britton co-hosted over 50 episodes of the Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson podcast before producing and hosting his own podcast, The Eben Flow. He also co-founded the community-based athlete advocacy association Athletes for CARE, and sits on the advisory board of Wake Network, a psilocybin research and development company. Last year, Britton joined the Revenant MJ cannabis brand in California founded by NFL brethren Kyle Turley and Jim McMahol, as partner and spokesperson.

Ebenbritton.com

This article appears in the June 2022 issue of High Times. Subscribe here.

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From the Archives: Gettin’ High in Surf City (2001)

By Cannabiz Chris

The sweet aroma of marijuana burning is commonplace. So, too, is the possibility of having a joint handed to you by a stoned stranger. Where the redwoods meet the sea, the Northern California beachside city of Santa Cruz has it all—culture, opportunities for an outdoor lifestyle and a laid-back vibe that is all-inclusive, especially toward marijuana.

Santa Cruz is well-known for its liberal political climate toward medical-marijuana legalization. Last year, voters overwhelmingly passed an ordinance authored by Valerie Corral, the founder of WAMM, a local nonprofit provider organization, which enables local residents to obtain medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. In fact, if you have the proper documentation, you can actually book a room at the Bed, Bud and Breakfast Inn in Santa Cruz, where medical-marijuana users can smoke comfortably in a homey, secure setting. Even local law enforcement seems to realize the futility of busting harmless pot-smokers who pose no threat to society. Their priority is to go after largescale commercial operations, and they have left medical pot patients and reefer-loving locals to smoke in relative peace. Which is nice, because the topography of Santa Cruz is a sensory circus—green forests, windswept beaches and a rugged Pacific coastline with secret coves hidden away from view. Jagged cliffs drop into deep blue water. Rustic lighthouses stand staunchly of craggy rock perches while scores of lounging, barking seals create a cacophony.

The town is also a surfing Mecca, worldrenowned for out standing, year-round waves. The surf world knows that the SC boyz are a bunch of cool, down-to earth dudes who are pushing the limits of the sport on all levels while maintaining a high standard of heavy-duty puffing. You can get an eyeful of these wave acrobats from the cliffs and bluffs of Santa Cruz’s prime surf spots. They battle the toughest-ass waves in frigid 50-degree water and keep their eyes peeled for sharks. Surfing is a spiritual sport and cannabis is a spiritual plant. Smoking relaxes the surfer and sets the proper frame of mind for riding waves. Surfers say it enhances their creative ability. Whether aerialist tricksters, big-wave chargers or cruising long-boarders, pot pushes them to perform their best in the water.

But there’s much more to SC than just the surf scene. Discovered in 1769 by the Spanish explorer Don Gaspar de Portóla, Santa Cruz was established in 1850 as one of the first counties of California. Fishing, agriculture and logging were the main industries as the town developed, and a variety of races and cultures from around the world contributed to its growth, exploiting the region’s cornucopia of natural resources.

Landmarks were erected. In the early 1900s, the Swanson family created the Beach Boardwalk and Casino Amusement Park, attracting people nationwide, while the outdoor Pacific Garden Mall became the city center. Since then, the county has set aside an impressive tenth of the region for 19 state parks, and has preserved 13 miles of beachfront.

Although the October ‘89 earthquake, 7.1 on the Richter scale, destroyed the downtown area, including the Pacific Garden Mall, the community rebuilt quickly and has thrived. Art and cultural events take place every week, and local college students and townsfolk commingle on weekends at a variety of premier music venues. You can be, dress, act or look like whatever you desire. No one really cares. Diversity is accepted. Nearly every ethnic group is represented here. Sexual orientation is hardly given a thought. It’s also an organic-food heaven. In fact, the county is one of the nation’s leaders in organic-food production. Dozens of health-food stores carry the freshest fruits and vegetables, plus a supreme array of whole-food products. Growers have discovered that Santa Cruz provides ideal conditions for growing premium pot—rich, fertile soil and an average high temperature of 69°F. The unspoken truth is that a lot of residents grow, in backyards, indoor growrooms and hidden in the middle of the Santa Cruz wilds. People love their weed here. No two ways about it. But more importantly, the citizens of Santa Cruz are establishing a model for other municipalities. They are finding out exactly what transpires when you lay the foundations for responsible marijuana use. Absolutely nothing. Life goes on. Happily.

High Times Magazine, October 2001

Read the full issue here.

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The Value of Viola

There’s a lot of reasons to love Viola. Besides attracting consumers with their high-profile founder, the heart-warming story of the company’s origins or their extensive equity work with Viola Cares—these guys just make great products. Now in their 10th year of operation, today Viola is easily one of the most talked about brands in the cannabis industry, and one of the most popular in terms of sales too. With operations in six states and a licensing deal that will bring the brand into Canada, Viola has long been a shining example of cultural relevance driving sales in this burgeoning space.

Founded by former NBA first-round pick Al Harrington, who was drafted at 18 (as the 25th pick overall in the 1998 draft), Harrington isn’t your typical cannabis executive—even though he did play for most of the teams with names stoners would choose, like the Nuggets, the Magic and the Wizards. After suffering numerous injuries while playing professionally and having been prescribed countless pharmaceuticals to quell his pain, it wasn’t until after his career was over that he began to fully comprehend all the healing properties cannabis offered. The NBA didn’t look too kindly on the plant back then, after all. But after medicating himself, it was actually his grandmother’s relief that motivated him to build the company. She had been suffering from glaucoma for years, and cannabis was the first medication that brought her lasting comfort. He immediately realized the potential.

While the goal is of course to grow the business and provide as much access to the plant as possible, it’s important to note that this isn’t just some celebrity cash grab. On top of making quality products, Viola’s mission is to “increase minority participation and ownership in the cannabis industry while positively impacting and reinvesting into communities most affected by the war on drugs,” which is best illustrated through their expansive work with Viola Cares.

The brand’s latest release brings another NBA icon into the cannabis spotlight.

“The Answer” Has Joined the Team

Viola’s newest line was created in conjunction with NBA Hall of Famer, Allen Iverson. The frequent NBA All-Star (not to mention two-time All-Star Game MVP, a league-wide MVP and a Rookie of the Year award), on the other hand, is no stranger to the plant. Having gotten arrested for possession in 1997 while playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, just one year after joining the league, Iverson’s time in the limelight was often viewed through a critical lens. Although undoubtedly a monster on the court, with over 24,000 career points and being widely regarded as one of the best ball handlers ever, it was his antics off the floor that unfortunately made the biggest headlines. With a career that often had him considered the “bad boy” of the league back in the days of prohibition, it seems uniquely appropriate for this All-Star to lend his star power to championing the plant now that the tides are changing. “I couldn’t be happier to team up with my brother, Al, on this. I love what he’s doing and am excited to help share his mission in the cannabis space for our community,” Iverson said.

For Harrington and Viola though, as with their entire business, this is bigger than just a celebrity play. “The partnership with Chuck [Allen Iverson’s nickname] is the first of its kind in the industry. For us it’s more than just throwing his name on a bag or merch.” Harrington told High Times. “We really wanted to create a product he was proud of.”

And it looks like they’ve succeeded. Since its launch—whether it was at one of the several launch parties or from shares on social media, few hype launches get this kind of attention. But how’s it smoke?

Dubbed “‘96,” after Iverson’s rookie year in the league, the pilot cultivar is an indica-dominant cross between Grape Stomper and Secret Kush Mints, and it’s one that will put even the most experienced smoker down. With a vibrant, sweet and piney aroma punching out of the bag, the buds look just as attractive as they smell. The dense, dark purple—almost black—buds are absolutely covered in light trichomes, providing a gorgeous juxtaposition, especially paired with the bright orange hairs sprouting out from the seams.

These nugs are so sticky that you’ll be left with a residue after breaking up only your first nug, so you’ll want to use a grinder, and prepare for an even more impressive aroma once you start crushing buds up. The mint nose really presents itself once it’s been torn to shreds. In terms of the smoke, it’s hard to complain with this one. You’ll get the candy flavor you hope for on the pull, and the ash burns clean, but beware of the high. Unlike many imitators on the market, when these guys say something is an indica, you should take note. Don’t smoke the ‘96 too early, this one is a sleeper—like, Nate Robinson sleep.

violabrands.com

*You can find this story in the January 2022 issue of High Times Magazine.

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Cannabis and Fitness: Does Cannabis Improve Athletic Performance?

While Canada legalized cannabis in 2018, it didn’t automatically mean that professional athletes could use cannabis without violating rules around drug use. Those who participate in professional sports must follow guidelines set out by the sporting body. When it comes to drug use, they must adhere to particular rules associated with ‘doping’ as set by […]

The post Cannabis and Fitness: Does Cannabis Improve Athletic Performance? appeared first on Cannabis News, Lifestyle – Headlines, Videos & Cooking.

Russia Extends Brittney Griner’s Detention by Two Months

WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner will be held in a Russian prison on charges of possessing cannabis vape cartridges until May, according to information provided by the state media outlet on Thursday. Griner was taken into custody last month at an airport near Moscow after customs officials reportedly found the cannabis oil cartridges in her luggage. The Olympic gold medalist has been detained in Russia since her arrest.

On Thursday, Russian state news agency TASS reported that the Khimki City Court of the Moscow region had ruled to detain Griner for at least two more months as the case is investigated, according to a report from the Daily Mail.

“The court granted the petition of the investigation and extended the term of U.S. citizen Griner’s detention until May 19,” the court ruled.

Griner is a seven-time WNBA All-Star center and has played for the Phoenix Mercury since 2013, including the team’s 2014 league championship squad. She has also won the Olympic gold medal with the U.S. women’s basketball team twice.

Griner has played seven seasons of professional basketball in Russia during the winter, a common practice among WNBA players. She earns about $1 million per season to play in Russia, about four times the salary she earns playing for Phoenix. On January 29, Griner played her most recent game with her team UMMC Ekaterinburg before the Russian league took a two-week break for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments.

WNBA Star Arrested Last Month

The Russian Customs Service reported on March 5 that an American women’s basketball player had been detained after cannabis vape cartridges were discovered in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow. Griner was not identified by name and the date of the arrest was not specified. The customs service also released a video that appears to depict Griner making her way through an airport security checkpoint.

TASS subsequently reported that the arrested player was Griner. Although the date of Griner’s arrest was not announced, media outlets reported that she has been in custody since February. After news of the arrest broke, the WNBA and the players’ union expressed support for the star player.

“Brittney Griner has the WNBA’s full support, and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States,” the league said in a statement after Griner’s arrest was announced by Russian media.

TASS reported on Thursday that Griner is being held in an undisclosed Russian prison pending investigation of the case. The news agency also said that Ekaterina Kalugina of the human rights watchdog group Public Monitoring Commission, a semi-official body with access to Russian prisons, had visited Griner. Kalugina reported that Griner was doing well and being held in humane conditions.

Kalugina further reported that Griner has accepted her detention and was being held in a cell with two other women with no prior convictions who are also being held on drug-related charges. Griner’s only issue, she said, was that the prison’s beds are too small for the 6’9” basketball star.

“The beds in the cell are clearly designed for a shorter person,” Kalugina told TASS.

The human rights worker also said that U.S. authorities have not yet visited Griner in Russia, which invaded its neighbor Ukraine on February 24, plunging the region into a humanitarian and diplomatic crisis.

“In addition, for an unknown reason, the U.S. consul does not come to [see Griner], although the administration of the pre-trial detention center is ready to create all conditions for a visit,” TASS quoted Kalugina as saying.

Griner’s time in custody is being made easier by the women being held with her, the report continued.

“[Griner’s cellmates] also had no previous convictions and are charged with drug-related [offenses],” said Kalugina. “They speak English and help Griner communicate with the prison administration.”

“They helped her order books: she reads F. M. Dostoevsky and [a] biography of the members of the Rolling Stones,” she continued.

Uproar Over Griner’s Arrest

Griner’s arrest has led to an outcry from politicians and celebrities around the globe. Democratic Representative Colin Allred of Texas, the basketball star’s home state, said on March 9 that he was looking into the circumstances of Griner’s arrest.

“My office has been in touch with the State Department, and we’re working with them to see what is the best way forward,” said Allred, as quoted by ESPN. “I know the administration is working hard to try and get access to her and try to be helpful here. But obviously, it’s also happening in the context of really strained relations. I do think that it’s really unusual that we’ve not been granted access to her from our embassy and our consular services.”

American Iranian journalist Jason Rezaian was detained in Tehran by the Iranian government in 2014 and held in a notorious prison for 544 days, finally being released in 2016. He said that he sees similarities in his case and Griner’s.

“It’s the most audacious hostage taking by a state imaginable,” Rezaian told CNN. “I know from my own case that the supposed charges against me were not based in anything like reality, and they were used to perpetuate a narrative about why I was being held.”

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NCAA Eases Rules, Testing for Cannabis Use Among College Athletes

The NCAA said last week that it is relaxing its policy for cannabis testing among collegiate athletes in the United States, while also recommending that it ease penalties for a positive test. 

The decision came after a meeting on February 22 and 23 of the NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports, (CSMAS) which raised the amount of THC required to constitute a positive test from 35 to 150 nanograms per milliliter.

The NCAA said that the new THC threshold for its student athletes was established by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the global agency that oversees drug testing in athletics. 

“Reconsidering the NCAA approach to cannabis testing and management is consistent with feedback from membership on how to better support and educate student-athletes in a society with rapidly evolving public health and cultural views regarding cannabis use,” Dr. Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer, said in a press release on Friday

“Marijuana is not considered a performance-enhancing substance, but it remains important for member schools to engage student-athletes regarding substance use prevention and provide management and support when appropriate.”

The policy shift by the NCAA, which comprises more than 1,000 schools in the U.S. spanning three different divisions, is the latest example of American sports reckoning with the changing attitudes and laws in the country.

With a majority of states having legalized cannabis in some form, domestic sporting leagues like the NBA and NFL have also updated their drug testing rules. And the incongruity between the changing laws and the drug testing policies in the athletic world drew attention last summer, when U.S. sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was suspended from the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for cannabis.

In addition to raising the THC threshold, CSMAS also recommended that all three divisions of the NCAA change the penalties for a positive cannabis test. (The NCAA said that such drug testing penalties “are legislated under NCAA bylaws, so each division will be required to separately adopt new legislation before changes are made.”)

According to the Associated Press, under the previous penalty structure “one positive test for marijuana would mean an NCAA athlete would immediately have to miss 50 percent of a regular season and a second would mean an athlete would sit out for ‘the equivalent of one season … of regular-season competition.’”

The NCAA said that under the new structure, the first positive test would result in “no loss of eligibility if the school provides a management plan and education for the student-athlete.” A second positive test would likewise result in no loss of eligibility “if the school provides additional management and education and confirms the student-athlete was compliant with the original management and education plan,” although “the student-athlete must be withheld from 25 percent of regular-season contests if they were not compliant with the original management and education plan.”

A third positive test would not result in a loss of eligibility either “if the school provides additional management and education and confirms the student-athlete was compliant with the previous two treatment and education plans,” but the “the student-athlete must be withheld from 50 percent of regular-season contests if they were not compliant with the previous management and education plan.”

“These adjustments to the NCAA drug testing program were approved after careful consideration and extensive discussion of the recommendations made by the Drug Testing Subcommittee, which has been meeting since last fall,” said Dr. Stephanie Chu, chair of the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports. 

“The updated cannabis testing policies create a clear pathway for student-athletes to participate in education and management programs specific to their needs at the campus level.”

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Cannabis and Fitness: How to Use Cannabis for Workout Recovery

It seems we regularly hear that we need to exercise more. However, it’s challenging to feel motivated when our bodies are achy and sore. Taking care of our body post-workout can make it easier to stay engaged with fitness and keep us motivated — and cannabis can help. Learn how to use cannabis for workout […]

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