Smoking Weed And Your Rights – A BC Cannabis Consumption Lounge Crossword

In Canada, you can legally buy a joint but there are few places where you can smoke it. At first glance, the issue might seem like a low priority when in fact it’s actually anything but. Smoking weed indoors is a luxury for some and a necessity for others. Clean air bylaws, strata councils and […]

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Getting Busted Around The World – The Consequences Of Cannabis Cultivation Crossword Puzzle

There are a lot of plants that only grow in certain places around the world, but thankfully, cannabis is not one of them. Certain strains thrive in particular climates and we often recognize it in the name, for example, Durban Poison or Afghan Kush. They call it weed for a reason; basically, this plant can […]

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Curbside Recreational Weed Pickups End in Massachusetts

Cannabis dispensaries in Massachusetts will no longer be permitted to offer curbside pickup of recreational marijuana purchases to their customers after state regulators allowed an emergency rule permitting the practice to expire. 

At a meeting of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission on September 17, regulators voted to extend some emergency regulations put in place at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, including a rule that allows medical marijuana patients to receive recommendations from their physician via a telemedicine appointment. The commission also voted to continue curbside cannabis purchase pickups for medical marijuana patients but declined to extend a similar authorization for adult-use cannabis customers.

Decision Ends Pandemic-Era Rule

Cannabis dispensaries in Massachusetts were barred from making sales of recreational marijuana for two months under an executive order issued in March 2020 by Governor Charlie Baker that directed nonessential businesses to close to help stem the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

Medical marijuana dispensaries were deemed essential businesses, however, and allowed to remain open with special safety precautions including social distancing and curbside pickup put in place. Shops supplying both medical marijuana and recreational cannabis were directed to serve registered patients only. Sales of recreational marijuana resumed the following May with similar restrictions in place, including social distancing and curbside pickup for most transactions.

“The Cannabis Control Commission, with the cooperation of licensees, municipalities, and most importantly, registered qualifying patients, has demonstrated that we are effectively able to preserve public health and safety through curbside operations and other emergency protocols,” CCC executive director Shawn Collins said at the time. “I am confident that our adult-use licensees and their customers will adapt just the same when they reopen under similar protocols next week.”

Leave the Kids at Home

Only a week after curbside pickup of adult-use cannabis began, however, the commission clarified that customers picking up recreational marijuana orders could not have children with them in the car. At a June 2020 CCC meeting, commissioner Britte McBride said that state law forbids people younger than 21 from being on the premises of cannabis retailers and argued that vehicles used for pickup transactions are included in the restriction.

“It states really explicitly in the statute what our obligation is,” McBride said. “For me, that’s the beginning and the end.”

Commissioner Jen Flanagan also opposed allowing children in vehicles making pickups at cannabis dispensaries and said that recreational marijuana is not an essential service.

“While I understand that parents may be having difficulty accessing this product, given the circumstances that we’re currently in… I don’t believe that anyone under 21 should be in the car,” Flanagan said. “I’m sorry, this is not something that is absolutely necessary. This is not food… we’re talking about a choice a parent is making.”

Emergency Rules Expired this Month

The emergency regulations for cannabis dispensaries were based on a state of emergency declared by Baker’s 2020 executive order. When the governor rescinded the state of emergency declaration in May of this year, the CCC voted to extend the authorizations for curbside pickups and telemedicine appointments until September 1, a deadline that passed without action from the commission until the meeting on September 17.

Members of the commission noted that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues with the Delta variant raging across the country, it may still be unsafe for some medical marijuana patients to pick up their purchases in person.

“Patients may not be comfortable just yet entering a dispensary,” Collins said at this month’s meeting.

Although he acknowledged that adult-use cannabis customers may also still be wary about making in-store purchases, Collins noted that lawmakers passed legislation authorizing home delivery of recreational marijuana late last year. 

In June, the CCC began accepting applications for home delivery of recreational marijuana under a program that prioritizes social equity applicants who want to enter the regulated cannabis industry. While delivery is not yet available in all areas of Massachusetts, Collins said that new delivery operators are being approved every month.

The post Curbside Recreational Weed Pickups End in Massachusetts appeared first on High Times.

The Cannabis Question Looks at Weed and the Body and Brain

The more cannabis becomes accepted in the U.S., the more frustrating it becomes that cannabis researchers are barred by Schedule I status and cannot freely research, as well as that communities of color remain more at-risk for incarceration. The new PBS and NOVA documentary The Cannabis Question tackles both problems in one, succinct film. 

The film looks at what scientists have discovered so far about the body and brain, as well as the potential medical benefits and risks of using cannabis and how people of color have been harmed by its criminalization. Released on September 29 of this year, the film takes an unbiased and fair look at the way cannabis has been treated. 

“A majority of Americans now live in states where cannabis is legal. As more people make their own choices about cannabis use, this film explores what scientists have learned so far about the potential benefits and risks,” said NOVA Co-Executive Producer Julia Cort in a press release.

“We hope The Cannabis Question will inspire people to join the national conversation about cannabis—informed by the science, and also by the story of how the plant has been weaponized against marginalized communities, causing irreparable harm.”

Yasmin Hurd of Mount Sinai Hospital – Courtesy WGBH

The film looks at scientists Yasmin Hurd at Mount Sinai Hospital and Daniele Piomelli at University of California, Irvine. Both researchers are heading up studies on the endocannabinoid system. By sharing the personal stories of patients and users, the documentary uses a mix of science and emotional appeal to shake the stigma against weed. 

“Such research is critical on a number of levels,” Hurd told High Times. “First, the endocannabinoid system, through which cannabis mediates its actions, is a critical biological system in the brain. It has a broad role in numerous brain functions relevant to cognition, memory, emotion, hormonal regulation and motor behavior and thus is highly implicated in various neuropsychiatric disorders. 

“Moreover, the endocannabinoid system is critical for hardwiring of the developing brain. As such it is important to understand the impact of cannabis exposure especially as THC concentrations have dramatically increased over the years thus leading to far greater perturbation of the endocannabinoid system over its normal physiological bandwidth. In addition, given the neuromodulatory role of endocannabinoids in the brain, it is important to study whether cannabis/cannabinoids can be leveraged to modulate neuropsychiatric disorders.

According to the Director of The Cannabis Question, Sarah Holt, the film is the first of its kind to closely examine the scientific research on how cannabis interacts with humans’ endocannabinoid systems. 

I hope viewers will come away with an understanding of why [the endocannabinoid system] is one of the most important regulatory systems in our body—and anytime you use cannabis, you are interfering with it,” Holt stated in a press release. This isn’t Holt’s first dive into filmmaking to uncover and share scientific data about how drugs interact with the brain. 

“In 2018, I produced a NOVA film called Addiction,” Holt told High Times. “The film investigated how opioid drugs alter the brain, and why addiction should be viewed as a brain disorder that can be successfully managed with evidence-based treatments. As more Americans favor legalizing cannabis, NOVA and I agreed it was time to investigate the latest science studying the vast array of chemicals in this plant. 

“Scores of clinical trials were underway exploring the potential medical benefits or risks of cannabis. Instead of anecdotal stories, the hope was that our film could report on real data to help viewers make informed decisions about cannabis.”

Courtesy WGBH

The film focuses on how cannabis benefits patients with conditions like PTSD, anxiety and pain. It also traces the history of cannabis criminalization throughout the U.S., including the racist history of the word “marijuana” and the demonization of undocumented people throughout the War on Drugs. It specifically focuses on the stories of those who have done or are still doing hard time for cannabis possession. 

“I hope the film helps people understand the larger context and impacts of our drug policies,” Holt said about the movie. “A public health crisis has been unfolding for decades—caused by the war on drugs. The film highlights the influence of racism in forming US policy and its implementation around cannabis over the last century. Cannabis arrests are fueling mass incarceration in this country, and disproportionately targeting communities of color. Incarceration dramatically affects people’s health, and conviction records make it difficult for people to get jobs. 

“At the same time that we have an estimated 40,000 Americans behind bars for cannabis charges, the cannabis wellness industry is thriving, creating a stark divide. I’m hoping that this film widens people’s perspective on cannabis and helps them see how science could inform policy in ways that are both more equitable and beneficial to public health.”  

The post The Cannabis Question Looks at Weed and the Body and Brain appeared first on High Times.

Growers in the Emerald Triangle are Facing a Potential Extinction Event

“This is an extinction event,” Johnny Casali, owner of Huckleberry Hill Farms, a cannabis farm in southern Humboldt County, said over the phone. “Things are really, really bad.”

Casali is referring to a recent wholesale price collapse in California’s outdoor-grown cannabis market. 

This time last year, a pound of the best quality sun-grown, light dep weed on the market cost between $1,200 to 1,600, according to Chris Anderson, founder of Humboldt County-based distributor Redwood Roots and a former cannabis farmer himself. Wider wholesale prices settled between $800 to 1,000 per pound.

Now, the same quality cannabis is fetching as low as $400 to 600 a pound and “going downhill,” though some outdoor growers are still getting in the $800-1,000 range, Anderson explained. That is for the best outdoor pot money can buy, “fresh, sun-grown, light dep,” which he said is genuinely limited and harder to find. 

Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

For contrast, Anderson says that indoor-grown “shitty, low end” flower is fetching around $1,000/pound, up to $3,000/pound for the best “designer, truly AAA, best indoor pot in the industry.” He added that lower quality pot, whether indoor or outdoor grown, exists in nearly “endless” quantities.

Data firms like Leaflink have not yet registered a price drop. A representative for Leaflink said it’s too soon to see definitive or robust data for this summer’s outdoor price drops.

That’s just in the legal market. Elsewhere in the country, pounds of the same pot trades at higher multiples in the illegal market, in some cases reaching upwards of $5,000. Supply and demand still rule the day, Anderson said, followed by quality. Indoor pot always fetches higher prices and outdoor lower, owing to outdoor weed’s relative lack of potency compared with top-shelf indoor, as well as its potentially variable appearance.

The decline in pricing, which began at the beginning of June, is expected to get worse as the cannabis harvest season proliferates and finishes in late October and November.

Emerald Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

Following that, a remaining glut of outdoor-grown cannabis from last year’s and this year’s harvests is expected to keep prices low for “at least the next couple of years,” said Anderson. By that point, industry insiders say, many small farmers could be all but wiped off the legal cannabis cultivation map.

The immediate cause is a lingering market surplus from last year’s grow—a supply that has proved to be too large to be absorbed by the legal market.

In years past, since outdoor cannabis is not harvested during the winter, an autumn harvest will supply the market for several months. Come spring, supply is lower, therefore, prices are typically higher. Late spring and early summer are when the first rounds of harvest—referred to as “light deps” for the cultivation technique employed (which involves light deprivation)—typically begin. From there, prices begin to drop, usually to more reasonable levels. The harvest continues and the cycle begins anew.

This year, farmers are beginning a new harvest with last year’s cannabis still in hand. The expected spring price drop never came, which signaled to small farmers that something was seriously wrong. 

Fast-forward to now, after the first rounds of deps, and farmers are realizing that not only could they not sell last year’s weed, but they will have to sell this year’s crop at a steep loss if they are able to sell it at all. Off the record, many growers commented that this is the weed that ends up on the illegal market.

“This state has an over-production problem,” said Natalynne DeLapp, executive director of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance. She explained that owing to the local control provision of Proposition 64, so many municipalities in California have opted out of allowing sales and distribution within their limits that there simply are not enough places to sell the amount of legal cannabis grown in the state. 

Emerald Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

“Currently, there are 1,775 acres of cannabis licensed by the state, which conservatively produces more than six million pounds of cannabis,” Delapp said. “CDFA [California Department of Food and Agriculture] has estimated in its Standard Regulatory Impact Analysis in 2017 that California likely consumes 2.5 million pounds of cannabis. Not all cannabis consumed in California is purchased at legal retailers, so a very conservative estimate is that we’re producing twice what the legal market can consume, but in reality it’s probably worse than that.”

That 2.5 million number, Delapp explained, is the “only and ‘best’ number we have from the state back in 2017.” She added that the state’s opacity and not releasing data from METRC, the tracking system, that shows what amount of cannabis is legally sold in licensed retail shops is part of the problem.

At the same time, the state and its counties continue to issue cultivation licenses, the fees from which produce revenue for municipalities. As the number of growers increases in size, so does the amount of cannabis being produced, but the pool of would-be legal customers isn’t following in lockstep.

Bigger cultivators pose a very specific problem. In addition to flooding the market with large amounts of cannabis, driving down prices, they are also able to sustain market fluctuations, seeing as they are highly capitalized. 

According to industry insiders, like DeLapp and Genine Coleman of legacy grower advocacy organization Origins Council, larger cultivators weren’t supposed to be able to participate in the legal market until 2023, but the provision that granted small farmers a five-year-long head start in the market was scrapped just as Prop 64 was passed.

“It’s basically systemically dysfunctional,” said Coleman. “As for prices, the lowest I heard was $275. But that was a month ago. The thing to remember is that that farmer is paying a $150-per-pound cultivation tax,” she added, citing a harsh truth that applies to every cultivator regardless of what price per pound their weed ends up being sold for.

Coleman also lays out immediate solutions that she and others in California’s small grower community say would provide meaningful relief.

Emerland Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

“Between COVID, the fires, that reality [of crashing market prices], and the budget process unfolding, there could be some legislation and a trailer bill. There could be temporary actions taken while time is taken to sort out a broader policy issue,” Coleman said, referring to a potential temporary moratorium on issuing cultivation licenses, as well as amending the cultivation tax, which are two fixes many growers say they would gladly welcome.

“From our perspective, the most immediate thing that can happen is some kind of tax restructuring, that at least offers temporary relief from the cultivation tax. Because the rest of the supply chain is better positioned than small farmers, in particular,” Coleman said. She added that these larger operations are also much more equipped to handle compliance as it relates to state regulations, like the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), from both a manpower perspective and a monetary one.

“The next order of business is, ‘What can be done for market expansion?’ The lateral growth in the retail sector is unacceptable and can’t carry the production trajectory that we have,” Coleman explained. She said that larger-scale operations continue to come online and everyone in the industry is preparing for an eventual interstate market that doesn’t exist yet while at the same time there has been a contraction of customer access.

For Coleman’s part, she is on the board of the Alliance for Sensible Markets, another advocacy organization that has been in conversation with a number of states to evaluate interstate compacts and prospective trade between legalized states. Nothing has been decided on that front as of yet, but she indicated that news was coming soon.

As for the state, Nicole Elliott, director of the Department of Cannabis Control, shared, “The Administration has always been committed to supporting small and legacy businesses in the cannabis market, as evidenced by a number of the policies and programs that have been pursued and implemented in our 2.5 years in office.”

Elliot points to the creation of a standalone state department, the Department of Cannabis Control, which recently consolidated from three separate state agencies to help simplify the administration of regulated commercial cannabis businesses. She says this includes a “sustained focus on streamlining licensing processes and regulatory requirements. All of this is being done with an eye towards making it easier for businesses, particularly small businesses, to operate within the legal, regulated market.”

Elliott added that the state’s budget, which is enjoying a $75.7 billion surplus this year, allocated $100 million for a Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program. 

“These grants specifically target regions with high numbers of small farmers and was structured in a way that really sought to preserve significant funding locations with legacy small cultivators that often have unique regulatory needs,” Elliott said. She also adds that some legacy operators in the Emerald Triangle are also equity beneficiaries who receive funds from a $35.5 million Local Equity Grant Program and $30 million for fee waivers and deferrals.

Both Coleman and DeLapp said they appreciate this cash injection from the Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program but that the money is already earmarked for other projects. Specifically, DeLapp said that in Humboldt County, they are looking to use it to bulk up water storage systems, which addresses the other looming catastrophe of climate change. Across the board, cultivators and their advocates say the state needs to do more. Halting the cultivation tax and enacting a moratorium on new cultivation licenses appears to be at the top of everyone’s lists.

There are other longer-term measures the state and industry advocates have taken, like the recent ratification of Senate Bill 67, which creates appellations of origin for cannabis grown in specific geographic areas. This is expected to increase tourism and provide an extra layer of education and protection around legacy growing areas that believe their cannabis is unique to where it’s grown. In an age where interstate commerce looms, it should be a huge boon—who from further afield is not going to want to buy California weed? But it’s not expected to meaningfully take effect for at least a couple of years.

Meanwhile, back in the Emerald Triangle, farmers are hurting. DeLapp says this is not only a likely “extinction event” for small legacy farmers but that it’s one of several. Back before Prop 64 passed, there were a number of cultivators who jumped ship, claiming they knew the bloodbath to come. Just after legalization was another when small farms struggled to find the capital and manpower to get and stay licensed. This outdoor price collapse is expected to be another.

Jackie McGowan, who is currently running as a candidate in Governor Newsom’s recall election, told us that she’s running specifically because she knew “at least four” grower friends of hers who died by suicide since the beginning of June 2021, owing to the price collapse. Her despair over the lives of her friends and colleagues, as well as the state of the industry, is what has compelled her to run, she said.

Coleman said that, apart from the injustice done to the small farmers who quite literally began and weathered cannabis cultivation in the United States throughout prohibition and into the legal area by allowing them to fail at this critical juncture, there are other potential losses to consider should small farmers be forced out of business.

“Something I’m always aware of regarding the extinction of small legacy farmers and farming communities is the extinction of a whole bunch of genetics,” Coleman said. “From the broader, more international perspective and especially in the medical realm of cannabis research, that’s a lot of loss in terms of the genetic library that should be researched and preserved. For an annual plant, in particular, it happens really quickly,” she added soberly.

At the end of the day, the growers and their advocates lay the blame both on the state’s failure to properly implement rules and regulations for a healthy legal cannabis market, as well as the large cultivators who are taking advantage of a law that was, frankly, made just for them.

“We were supposed to have this runway to 2023 before the market was overfilled. We didn’t get that,” DeLapp said.

She added, “What is the state going to do to fix this? Is the plan going to be to just let the legacy regions die?”

Growers in the Emerald Triangle are Facing a Potential Extinction Event

“This is an extinction event,” Johnny Casali, owner of Huckleberry Hill Farms, a cannabis farm in southern Humboldt County, said over the phone. “Things are really, really bad.”

Casali is referring to a recent wholesale price collapse in California’s outdoor-grown cannabis market. 

This time last year, a pound of the best quality sun-grown, light dep weed on the market cost between $1,200 to 1,600, according to Chris Anderson, founder of Humboldt County-based distributor Redwood Roots and a former cannabis farmer himself. Wider wholesale prices settled between $800 to 1,000 per pound.

Now, the same quality cannabis is fetching as low as $400 to 600 a pound and “going downhill,” though some outdoor growers are still getting in the $800-1,000 range, Anderson explained. That is for the best outdoor pot money can buy, “fresh, sun-grown, light dep,” which he said is genuinely limited and harder to find. 

Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

For contrast, Anderson says that indoor-grown “shitty, low end” flower is fetching around $1,000/pound, up to $3,000/pound for the best “designer, truly AAA, best indoor pot in the industry.” He added that lower quality pot, whether indoor or outdoor grown, exists in nearly “endless” quantities.

Data firms like Leaflink have not yet registered a price drop. A representative for Leaflink said it’s too soon to see definitive or robust data for this summer’s outdoor price drops.

That’s just in the legal market. Elsewhere in the country, pounds of the same pot trades at higher multiples in the illegal market, in some cases reaching upwards of $5,000. Supply and demand still rule the day, Anderson said, followed by quality. Indoor pot always fetches higher prices and outdoor lower, owing to outdoor weed’s relative lack of potency compared with top-shelf indoor, as well as its potentially variable appearance.

The decline in pricing, which began at the beginning of June, is expected to get worse as the cannabis harvest season proliferates and finishes in late October and November.

Emerald Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

Following that, a remaining glut of outdoor-grown cannabis from last year’s and this year’s harvests is expected to keep prices low for “at least the next couple of years,” said Anderson. By that point, industry insiders say, many small farmers could be all but wiped off the legal cannabis cultivation map.

The immediate cause is a lingering market surplus from last year’s grow—a supply that has proved to be too large to be absorbed by the legal market.

In years past, since outdoor cannabis is not harvested during the winter, an autumn harvest will supply the market for several months. Come spring, supply is lower, therefore, prices are typically higher. Late spring and early summer are when the first rounds of harvest—referred to as “light deps” for the cultivation technique employed (which involves light deprivation)—typically begin. From there, prices begin to drop, usually to more reasonable levels. The harvest continues and the cycle begins anew.

This year, farmers are beginning a new harvest with last year’s cannabis still in hand. The expected spring price drop never came, which signaled to small farmers that something was seriously wrong. 

Fast-forward to now, after the first rounds of deps, and farmers are realizing that not only could they not sell last year’s weed, but they will have to sell this year’s crop at a steep loss if they are able to sell it at all. Off the record, many growers commented that this is the weed that ends up on the illegal market.

“This state has an over-production problem,” said Natalynne DeLapp, executive director of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance. She explained that owing to the local control provision of Proposition 64, so many municipalities in California have opted out of allowing sales and distribution within their limits that there simply are not enough places to sell the amount of legal cannabis grown in the state. 

Emerald Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

“Currently, there are 1,775 acres of cannabis licensed by the state, which conservatively produces more than six million pounds of cannabis,” Delapp said. “CDFA [California Department of Food and Agriculture] has estimated in its Standard Regulatory Impact Analysis in 2017 that California likely consumes 2.5 million pounds of cannabis. Not all cannabis consumed in California is purchased at legal retailers, so a very conservative estimate is that we’re producing twice what the legal market can consume, but in reality it’s probably worse than that.”

That 2.5 million number, Delapp explained, is the “only and ‘best’ number we have from the state back in 2017.” She added that the state’s opacity and not releasing data from METRC, the tracking system, that shows what amount of cannabis is legally sold in licensed retail shops is part of the problem.

At the same time, the state and its counties continue to issue cultivation licenses, the fees from which produce revenue for municipalities. As the number of growers increases in size, so does the amount of cannabis being produced, but the pool of would-be legal customers isn’t following in lockstep.

Bigger cultivators pose a very specific problem. In addition to flooding the market with large amounts of cannabis, driving down prices, they are also able to sustain market fluctuations, seeing as they are highly capitalized. 

According to industry insiders, like DeLapp and Genine Coleman of legacy grower advocacy organization Origins Council, larger cultivators weren’t supposed to be able to participate in the legal market until 2023, but the provision that granted small farmers a five-year-long head start in the market was scrapped just as Prop 64 was passed.

“It’s basically systemically dysfunctional,” said Coleman. “As for prices, the lowest I heard was $275. But that was a month ago. The thing to remember is that that farmer is paying a $150-per-pound cultivation tax,” she added, citing a harsh truth that applies to every cultivator regardless of what price per pound their weed ends up being sold for.

Coleman also lays out immediate solutions that she and others in California’s small grower community say would provide meaningful relief.

Emerland Triangle
Courtesy of Huckleberry Hill Farms

“Between COVID, the fires, that reality [of crashing market prices], and the budget process unfolding, there could be some legislation and a trailer bill. There could be temporary actions taken while time is taken to sort out a broader policy issue,” Coleman said, referring to a potential temporary moratorium on issuing cultivation licenses, as well as amending the cultivation tax, which are two fixes many growers say they would gladly welcome.

“From our perspective, the most immediate thing that can happen is some kind of tax restructuring, that at least offers temporary relief from the cultivation tax. Because the rest of the supply chain is better positioned than small farmers, in particular,” Coleman said. She added that these larger operations are also much more equipped to handle compliance as it relates to state regulations, like the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), from both a manpower perspective and a monetary one.

“The next order of business is, ‘What can be done for market expansion?’ The lateral growth in the retail sector is unacceptable and can’t carry the production trajectory that we have,” Coleman explained. She said that larger-scale operations continue to come online and everyone in the industry is preparing for an eventual interstate market that doesn’t exist yet while at the same time there has been a contraction of customer access.

For Coleman’s part, she is on the board of the Alliance for Sensible Markets, another advocacy organization that has been in conversation with a number of states to evaluate interstate compacts and prospective trade between legalized states. Nothing has been decided on that front as of yet, but she indicated that news was coming soon.

As for the state, Nicole Elliott, director of the Department of Cannabis Control, shared, “The Administration has always been committed to supporting small and legacy businesses in the cannabis market, as evidenced by a number of the policies and programs that have been pursued and implemented in our 2.5 years in office.”

Elliot points to the creation of a standalone state department, the Department of Cannabis Control, which recently consolidated from three separate state agencies to help simplify the administration of regulated commercial cannabis businesses. She says this includes a “sustained focus on streamlining licensing processes and regulatory requirements. All of this is being done with an eye towards making it easier for businesses, particularly small businesses, to operate within the legal, regulated market.”

Elliott added that the state’s budget, which is enjoying a $75.7 billion surplus this year, allocated $100 million for a Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program. 

“These grants specifically target regions with high numbers of small farmers and was structured in a way that really sought to preserve significant funding locations with legacy small cultivators that often have unique regulatory needs,” Elliott said. She also adds that some legacy operators in the Emerald Triangle are also equity beneficiaries who receive funds from a $35.5 million Local Equity Grant Program and $30 million for fee waivers and deferrals.

Both Coleman and DeLapp said they appreciate this cash injection from the Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program but that the money is already earmarked for other projects. Specifically, DeLapp said that in Humboldt County, they are looking to use it to bulk up water storage systems, which addresses the other looming catastrophe of climate change. Across the board, cultivators and their advocates say the state needs to do more. Halting the cultivation tax and enacting a moratorium on new cultivation licenses appears to be at the top of everyone’s lists.

There are other longer-term measures the state and industry advocates have taken, like the recent ratification of Senate Bill 67, which creates appellations of origin for cannabis grown in specific geographic areas. This is expected to increase tourism and provide an extra layer of education and protection around legacy growing areas that believe their cannabis is unique to where it’s grown. In an age where interstate commerce looms, it should be a huge boon—who from further afield is not going to want to buy California weed? But it’s not expected to meaningfully take effect for at least a couple of years.

Meanwhile, back in the Emerald Triangle, farmers are hurting. DeLapp says this is not only a likely “extinction event” for small legacy farmers but that it’s one of several. Back before Prop 64 passed, there were a number of cultivators who jumped ship, claiming they knew the bloodbath to come. Just after legalization was another when small farms struggled to find the capital and manpower to get and stay licensed. This outdoor price collapse is expected to be another.

Jackie McGowan, who is currently running as a candidate in Governor Newsom’s recall election, told us that she’s running specifically because she knew “at least four” grower friends of hers who died by suicide since the beginning of June 2021, owing to the price collapse. Her despair over the lives of her friends and colleagues, as well as the state of the industry, is what has compelled her to run, she said.

Coleman said that, apart from the injustice done to the small farmers who quite literally began and weathered cannabis cultivation in the United States throughout prohibition and into the legal area by allowing them to fail at this critical juncture, there are other potential losses to consider should small farmers be forced out of business.

“Something I’m always aware of regarding the extinction of small legacy farmers and farming communities is the extinction of a whole bunch of genetics,” Coleman said. “From the broader, more international perspective and especially in the medical realm of cannabis research, that’s a lot of loss in terms of the genetic library that should be researched and preserved. For an annual plant, in particular, it happens really quickly,” she added soberly.

At the end of the day, the growers and their advocates lay the blame both on the state’s failure to properly implement rules and regulations for a healthy legal cannabis market, as well as the large cultivators who are taking advantage of a law that was, frankly, made just for them.

“We were supposed to have this runway to 2023 before the market was overfilled. We didn’t get that,” DeLapp said.

She added, “What is the state going to do to fix this? Is the plan going to be to just let the legacy regions die?”

The post Growers in the Emerald Triangle are Facing a Potential Extinction Event appeared first on High Times.

Blazed Cats: Commanding the Weed NFT Space and Supporting Mental Health

Blazed Cats is ready to switch things up in the weed NFT space.

The weed NFT space mirrors that of the wider cultural phenomenon currently happening with the medium—innovation eventually gave way to people looking to make a buck, but through the haze surrounding weed-themed NFTs, we’re sure that the money Blazed Cats has raised to support mental health charities is a dope thing. 

We chatted with tom, a longtime cryptocurrency enthusiast with an affinity for lowercase letters; he serves as a member of the core team for the project. He was first exposed to the NFT scene via the wildly successful Crypto Punks and Crypto Kiddies, and the various cat themes already popping off at that moment. Right around the New Year, tom found himself going all-in on NFTs. In the process of that jump, he would be along for the ride when NFTs surged hard in late winter and early spring. 

—Courtesy of Blazed Cats

As for comparing that move into NFTs with his previous time in cryptocurrencies: 

“I mean the biggest difference for me is that barrier to entry because people were really still practicing the fundamentals of like trading in a market, but they don’t really understand it because there are cute cat JPEGs, that are at the forefront of it,” tom told High Times. “But regardless, there’s still a lot of things being traded and a lot of market activity. It’s really neat. For me, it’s neat because a lot of people will liken this to the traditional art space; this is more like an intro into how to trade assets and how to really understand the long term value of assets and that it could change over time.”

From tom’s perspective, it seems a lot less tech-savvy people are jumping into the NFT space than did the cryptocurrency right off the bat hoping to be along for home runs. He believes that’s exciting because regardless of the outcome the people taking part are in turn bringing people into crypto. 

“We’re still getting people interested in these concepts like blockchain immutability and so on and so forth,” tom said. “So, regardless of where the door is that people are coming in, it’s still good that we have attendance.”

After watching the space for a bit, tom had a couple of pivotal moments as he moved all his chips into the pot on NFTs. The first was when he quit a pretty plush marketing industry gig.

“I think that’s like the quintessential story, like you quit your job, you got to go do something. And we had a generative project that was called NFT Figs,” tom said.

NFT Figs was probably a little too early for the marketplace, but tom believes you’re seeing a lot of concepts from it gaining steam now. 

As tom and Blazed Cats’ other creators participated more in the space, they became deeply critical of the cut-and-paste cash grabs of the moment. While some were certainly trying to be on the cutting edge of digital art, plenty had more financial intentions. 

Blazed Cats
Courtesy of Blazed Cats

Blazed Cats Give Back

Enter Stoner Cats, the NFT-funded show backed by Mila Kunis that’s been able to score a ton of A-List voice talent like Chris Rock and Seth MacFarlane. When Stoner Cats dropped, the community felt it may have been a bit of a cash grab.

“Blazed Cats is another response to a work the community was seeing as a celebrity cash grab,” tom said. “We saw a Twitter thread that said, somebody could do this overnight, and us as a team, we’ve never worked together on the project, but we were on a thread and decided fuck it, let’s see if that’s something we can do.”

They accomplished their goal in 16 hours and Blazed Cats has now done over a million dollars in transactions. The team earmarked 25 percent of the initial mint and 100 percent of future royalties to Mental Health America. So far, the donation is over a quarter-million dollars. From the numbers, it would seem charity took a roughly three times bigger cut than the team members did individually.

tom feels like in the process of accomplishing their mission and making a bunch of money for charity, they also used the moment to demand actual progress and innovation in the NFT space, 

“We are showing that if you could do something like this overnight, maybe we should kind of take a step back and demand at least some kind of innovation with these projects before we’re just like, ‘a potion with a random Discord name, you are now a millionaire.’ It’s a weird concept. I mean, I’m fully willing to make some money off of people’s willingness to do that, but at the same time, I want to make as much of an impact as I can, and I know the team behind this because I’m just one of five. We all share that same mentality.”

Blazed Cats
Courtesy of Blazed Cats

One of the team members is just 13 years old, but most of the team didn’t even realize it at the beginning. He was just another person in the chat room, and then everything came out.

“It wasn’t any revelation; this is a person that’s relevant in a space; it’s just like, wow, he is working, to a degree I want, in the software development business. I hire and fire developers pretty much constantly, and he works better than most of the people that I have to hire or fire. His dad’s in communication with us on this and is completely aware, completely fine with the work that he’s doing and he’s going to do other projects in the space.” 

So, while weed NFTs are still a mystery to a lot of folks, the good work Blazed Cats is doing continues to make waves. 

The post Blazed Cats: Commanding the Weed NFT Space and Supporting Mental Health appeared first on High Times.

Comedian Jon Gabrus is “High And Mighty”

The fact that comedian Jon Gabrus is thriving should not come as a surprise to anyone. The host and creator of the wildly popular Headgum podcast, High and Mighty, moved the show to his home studio during quarantine, and it’s where he’s been recording for over the past year. In fact, his first podcast has been so successful, it spawned a second: The Action Boyz, which he hosts along with Ben Rodgers and Ryan Stanger, “breaking down, discussing and ruining all of your favorite action movies.”

When we connect by phone, Jon is enjoying a weed-and-chocolate cold brew, purposely consuming cannabis earlier in the day so that his high will coincide with his High Times interview. Our conversation touches on Jon’s foray into comedy, his relationship with weed and how he quit toking in high school to focus on becoming an FBI agent.

Comedian Tells All

You started pursuing comedy after hosting your high school talent show. Was comedy something you were always drawn to?

I’m sure I have a traditional X-Men origin story in that I was always the class clown and always enjoyed making my classmates and teachers laugh. Anyone who seemed like a hard laugh was my favorite person to try to crack.

I really wanted to go to school to be an FBI agent, and my plan was to major in science, get into the FBI and become a special agent. I’d actually smoked weed in ninth and tenth grade and then quit because I’d heard somewhere that the FBI wants to make sure you’ve never done drugs before. 

When the opportunity to host the talent show arose, the teacher producing the show was like, “Nah, you want to be an actor or a comedian or something. You should host the talent show.” I was like, “Oh, I don’t know.” This was my AP Psych teacher whose class I was taking because, again, I wanted to be a profiler or some shit—and she was like, “No, you want to work in entertainment. Trust me.” I was already set to perform a segment at the show with some friends, lip-syncing to Michael Jackson songs in stupid costumes, so I was like, “Okay, whatever.”

Performing on and hosting the talent show made me feel so fucking alive. My portion of the lip-sync was “Smooth Criminal.” It was 1998 or 1999, so I now understand the problematic issue around Michael Jackson, but, at the time, we had no idea. Screaming, “Annie, are you okay?” while the entire crowd sang along was such a fucking experience. It was like, “Oh, I get it now. I didn’t understand it before, but now I get why theater kids go crazy.” 

So, that was sort of the catalyst for me, and while I thought I’d still pursue biology and join the FBI, I knew I now liked comedy. I didn’t realize all those times I was making my teacher laugh or making my brother laugh when I wasn’t supposed to, how much juice I was getting off that. With the talent show, it solidified how much I enjoyed performing.

Flash forward, day two of college, there’s an activities fair, and I was being a wise-ass, goofing off with everybody, and someone from the theater company asked me to sign up for the comedy group. That was it for me. I switched my major to Communication and focused on figuring out a way to work in comedy. I didn’t even know what it meant at the time to work in comedy, I just knew that’s what I wanted to do.

What was the experience that occurred along that path which made you realize a career in comedy would actually be possible?

If I’m being honest, it’s probably like a death of a thousand cuts or whatever the opposite of that is: A life of a thousand loads. It was born out of a lot of small events.

After college, I was a PA at VH1 for a little while, working on the show Best Week Ever. I would also transcribe comedy tapes and take comedy classes at UCB. I was surrounded by a lot of comedy, but was trying to get more into writing, producing and being in comedy. My friend Kevin [from VH1] was like, “Everyone here is going to think of you as a PA forever, because that’s how they met you. You’ll have to leave to become a comedian.” Whereas, I thought, “Maybe they’ll just let me be on camera on Best Week Ever.” 

Kevin was like, “No, that’s not how it works, you 24-year-old idiot.” Which was completely fair. At the time I was like, “Paul Scheer, Doug Benson—these guys are pretty funny. I’m also pretty funny,” not realizing they had put in the 10 years of working in comedy. Kevin sat me down and told me I could leave, collect unemployment, find myself and start performing on shows and helped send me on my way. That was the last time I ever had a real “full-time” job in 2006 or 2007.

I went off, started coaching and teaching improv and took weird freelance jobs at everything from temping, to dressing up as a main character from Balls of Fury, to taking photos of people at bars. I took on the kind of weird jobs you see in these tv shows where they’re handing out fliers on the street—I just did the dumbest shit. I took psychological tests at Long Island College, anything I could do to make money living in Brooklyn. At the time, I was performing comedy, watching comedy, writing comedy, studying comedy – that was my real grad school, the couple of years I lived in Brooklyn, broke as fuck, eating rice and beans four nights per week.

When I’d go out with friends, I’d put all the drinks on my credit card and then collect cash from everyone so that I could have cash for the week. I’d then put that credit card bill onto a different Discover card and pay the transfer fee until I eventually moved in with my wife. Both of us had racked up like $30,000 in credit card debt trying to live in the city on full-shift, entry level jobs. I look back at that period of my life and see how from 22 to 27 is when I was learning how to be an adult while simultaneously learning how to be a comedian.

I’m even hesitant to use the word “comedian.” I’ve been performing comedy for 15 years, and I am still afraid to say I’m a comedian because it feels it’s a title owed, earned and applies to stand-up comics, not so much what I do. Even though I have performed stand-up, I don’t consider myself a stand-up comic because I’m such a fan of art, and I’m embarrassed to say that what I do is the same thing that Chris Rock does. 

That’s why I always say that I “do comedy” and not that “I’m a comedian” because I feel like stand-up people own that. I “do” comedy in a bunch of ways, so maybe I am technically a comedian? I don’t know. These are all my issues that I’m unpacking.

So your “win” was really you going through the grind and betting on yourself.

There’s been so many other victories along the way, and a lot of them are weirdly tied to financial freedom. For example, me no longer needing to be an improv teacher felt like a victory because I was just performing without worrying about other survivor jobs. Podcasts are my “day job” now, as of a few years ago, and every step of the way has felt like a tiny victory.

What was the inspiration behind your podcast, and what do you think has helped propel its growth?

I was having a lot of fun guesting on my friends’ podcasts when people started Tweeting at me that I should have my own podcast. I started to think, while I’m doing all of this work on other people’s podcasts—and having a blast—I’m not making any money. I didn’t know what show I’d even want to do.

Luckily, my friends Jake and Amir—who I’d known in New York from doing bits for College Humor—said they were launching a podcast network and thought of me as one of their funny friends who didn’t have a podcast at the time. I told them I’d love to, but there was a catch: I didn’t want to do anything beholden to a premise and would want it to be as self-serving as possible without knowing at the time that pretty much every podcast is self-serving.

I ended up launching my first podcast, High and Mighty, as a less agro, less masculine Joe Rogan show—five years ago, and it’s now over 250 episodes and is as self-serving as possible. I haven’t stuck with anything for five years except podcasting and smoking weed.

Speaking of weed, how is it part of your life now as an adult?

As I said earlier, I quit smoking in high school. In college, I was a big-time party animal, but my roommates were potheads and were sort of annoying when they smoked weed, so I never really wanted to get high with them. Somehow, I also made it through college without getting into weed.

When I was 25 or 26, I smoked at my buddy’s bachelor party for the first time in a long time. I was a pretty heavy drinker then and was like, “Man, this is so much better than drinking.” At the time, I was only looking [at smoking] as an excuse to get a little lit, but over the past 13 years, weed has become part of my life. I named my podcast “High and Mighty” because it’s a quadruple entendre of how I’m a big boy; I’m a strong boy; I’m frequently stoned, and I’m high and mighty about my beliefs.

Cannabis is part of my creative process, and it’s part of my bonding experience. I often get lit with my guests on the podcast—though it’s entirely up to them if they want to get stoned or not—but for me, weed is something I use as a carrot. I don’t need it to get through the day, but it does help me get through the day. I’ll use it as a carrot in that I’ll get some work done, get in some exercise and not blaze until three o’clock. Part of me is like, “Just wait,” so I can have something to look forward to each day.

So cannabis for you is a means to relax, but also a prize for doing what you set out to do.

I also use it for pain and stress management. Weed is anti-anxietal for me, and one of the ways my anxiety manifests itself is in GI distress. The way my GI anxiety manifests itself it’s in poop anxiety, in that I have to poop before I leave the house because I’m afraid I’ll have to poop elsewhere. I’m afraid to go to the gym and have to poop there. Smoking or ingesting cannabis settles my stomach, and it’s such a freeing thing.

Also, the things I enjoy in life are video games, movies, conversations, eating, cooking—all the shit for which cannabis is a performance enhancer. I know it’s hack and that a lot of stoners don’t want to get caught saying this, but when they say that most cool stuff to do in life is better when you’re high, there’s a reason.

People aren’t just making it up.

That’s the only thing that bothers me. Whenever a non-stoner is like, “Oh, let me guess. You think we should get high because you think it will make the movie or the restaurant better?” I’m like, “Why are you judging me? Most people believe it makes food taste better. Why are you looking at that as a negative?”

Regardless if you’re getting high or not, if you’re both enjoying the experience in your own ways, that’s what matters.

That’s exactly my point of view. I’m also in my late 30s now. I can’t really be hungover anymore; I don’t have kids, and I don’t have that much responsibility. But I do like the ability to get up and exercise every day. Turns out, some of my previous GI distress was probably from alcohol and gluten, so getting rid of that has made me way healthier. Now, I just get stoned and drink soda water, and I feel so much better about myself.

When I’m creating, I like to write some of the day sober, and then get high and revisit and jam out “weirder,” more free-flowing ideas. Part of the reason why I think I have a good relationship with pot is because I didn’t smoke it in college when I had no responsibility and could have easily been the guy who was having trouble at school because it’s way more fun to smoke weed than it is to go to class. 

Now, with no class to blow off, it makes it a little easier to get baked on a random Monday morning. Like today, we’re talking on a Monday morning, and I had to start the day with a little weed chocolate cold brew. As I said, I normally start at three, but some days, you just have to start earlier.

Follow @gabrus and check out his podcasts High and Mighty and The Action Boyz available everywhere

The post Comedian Jon Gabrus is “High And Mighty” appeared first on High Times.

How the Cannabis Industry is Marketing to COVID Moms

Motherhood isn’t linear. Every mother knows that every family’s journey is different. Compared to a mere ten years ago, women today have more resources when it comes to navigating the world of motherhood for the first time. Local support groups and mommy-and-me yoga classes are just a few things that mothers say have not only […]

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Put Weed On Your Private Parts – The Game

This is a game about extremely embarrassing issues with your private parts and the ways that weed can help. Buckle up, it’s about to get awkward. We are driving into topics that suck to deal with because they affect your genitals. At the end of the day, these are health issues and cannabis can help […]

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